The Impact of Immigration on Hiring
Small business owners need to pay attention to immigration issues and closely scrutinize data offered by new hires to avoid suffering damages to their workforce, according to a panel of experts speaking at a conference Monday hosted by the National Association of Women Business Owners.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement office of the Homeland Security Department is focused on businesses dealing in construction, manufacturing, meatpacking, retailers and temporary placement agencies, among others, said immigration lawyer Nicole Lawrence Ezer.
"No one is safe at this point unless you're certain your I-9s are in order," she said. I-9s or "Employment Eligibility Verification" forms are required to be filed by all companies with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A new version of the I-9 (pdf) went into effect in January. The major change on the revised form eliminates five documents from a list of acceptable documents that would allow an individual to be employed in the United States.
No-match letters are notices sent by the Social Security Administration to employers and employees letting them know that an employee's name or Social Security number listed on a W-2 form does not match the agency's records. It is not a notice of wrongdoing.
There are 15 to 20 states that are considering immigration reform, said Mike Aitken of the Society for Human Resource Management, and small firms should be aware of what their states are doing. At least one, Wisconsin, is considering legislation requiring employers to act on no-match letters.
Additionally, on Jan. 1, 2008, Arizona joined Colorado, Georgia and Oklahoma in requiring all employers to use an online system called E-verify to confirm their employees' identity. However, as states develop a patchwork quilt of legislation, companies can encounter problems.
Claire Guthrie Gastanaga of CG2 Consulting noted that Illinois has a law that says employers can not use E-verify. The state had concerns over errors in the database and other issues, she said. The conflicting state regulations pose problems for states doing business in both Illinois and Arizona, for example. That is why business owners should push lawmakers to fix this mess, she said.
Resources: The National Employment Law Project offers 10 tips for employers (pdf) who receive "no-match" letters.
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