GOVERNMENT RULES, NOTICES and ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • E-Verify Records Disposal: Must Act Before 12/31/14

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)  announced that effective  January 1, 2015,  E-Verify must delete transaction records that are over ten years old. If you have been using E-Verify since before December 31, 2004, you should download the new Historic Records Report before December 31, 2014.  Please see the Fact Sheet and Instructions.

Compare this advisory to the records maintenance and retirement rule for Verification of Employment Eligibility under the I-9 rule found at 8 CFR 274a.2.

  • USCIS's New Form I-9 Widget Can Streamline HR Procedures (9/23/14)

E-Verify released a new downloadable Form I-9 Desktop Widget that allows employers to automatically launch the Form I-9 at any time, from their desktop. Form I-9 Desktop Widget benefits include quick access to the current version of the Form I-9 and E-Verify. They also provide links to the Form I-9 and E-Verify free webinars schedule. HR departments can utilize the widget to learn how E-Verify works with Form I-9 to strengthen the on-boarding process. The Form I-9 Desktop Widget gives employers quick and convenient access to the latest version of the Form I-9. Download the shortcut  on the I-9 Desktop Widget Landing Page for free.

  • USCIS Announces Extension of Employment Authorized Documents (EADs) for Qualified Nationals (10/21/14)

USCIS recently announced the automatic extension of employment authorization for the following nationals under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED):

Click here to view table.

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection Releases New Mobile Passport Control Application (8/11/14)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today announced the launch of the first authorized application to expedite a traveler’s entry process into the United States. Mobile Passport Control (MPC) will allow eligible travelers to submit their passport information and customs declaration form via a smartphone or tablet prior to CBP inspection. This first-of-its-kind app was developed by Airside Mobile and Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) in partnership with CBP as part of a pilot program at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

IPhone and iPad users can download the application for free from Apple’s App Store. Eligible travelers arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport were able to use the application beginning Aug. 13. MPC is expected to expand to more airports later this year and to Android smartphone users in the future. MPC currently offers U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors a more efficient and secure in-person inspection between the CBP officer and the traveler upon arrival in the United States. Much like Automated Passport Control, the application does not require pre-approval, is free-to-use and does not collect any new information on travelers.  As a result, travelers will experience shorter wait times, less congestion and faster processing. New users can download the application on the mobile passport homepage.

  • USCIS Newsletter “E-Verify Connection” Newsletter Offers Free Subscription Service

On October 31, 2014, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services published their October “E-Verify Connection” newsletter. In addition to I-9 tips and information on extended employment authorization for certain nationals (as described above) it also provides tools for job seekers and quizzes on I-9 and E-verify rules as training tools for your company’s human resource employees. Click here to view the newsletter and sign up for future issues to be delivered to your inbox. 

AGENCY and COURT DECISIONS

  • ICE Fines Chicago Company more than $300,000 for hiring illegal workers

Following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a Chicago-area company has been fined more than $300,000 for hiring violations. An HSI investigation determined that 92% of Durable Inc.'s employees, or 604 workers, were not authorized to work in the United States. Following the investigation, HSI instituted a civil penalty of $329,895 against Durable Inc. for 300 paperwork violations that contributed to employing illegal workers. The penalty amount was increased due aggravated circumstances since Durable Inc. was previously fined $30,000 for hiring illegal workers and agreed at that time to cease and desist from any further violations.  The company also failed to institute any new procedures, training, or take any measurable steps to comply with the law. In September, an administrative law judge with the Department of Justice's Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) ordered Durable Inc. to pay 100 percent of the fine imposed by HSI. The company appealed this decision. However, the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) affirmed the judge's decision Oct. 23.

In her decision, Chief Administrative Hearing Officer Robin M. Stutman stated: "The very purpose of the employment eligibility verification requirements is to ensure that employers verify and certify the identity and employment authorization of every new hire in order to prevent the hiring of unauthorized workers. In this, Durable failed to properly verify and certify its employees' employment eligibility and ninety percent of its workforce was found to be comprised of unauthorized workers." You can view the decision in its entirety here. (U.S. v. Durable, INC., 11OCAHO no.1231 (October 23, 2014)).

  • HSI investigation leads to largest worksite enforcement forfeiture in ICE history

Five franchisees and operators of 7-Eleven, Inc. (7-Eleven) stores located throughout Long Island and Virginia entered guilty pleas Monday at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York. The defendants pleaded guilty to committing wire fraud and concealing and harboring illegal aliens employed at 7-eleven stores. The guilty pleas stemmed from an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The defendants used identities stolen from U.S. citizens, including the deceased persons and children to conceal their scheme and harbored illegal alien workers at houses own by the defendants. According to court filings and facts presented in court, the defendants, who owned, managed, and controlled fourteen 7-Eleven franchise stores during the course of the conspiracies, allegedly hired dozens of illegal aliens, equipped them with more than 20 identities stolen from United States citizens, housed them at residences owned by the defendants, and stole substantial portions of their wages. During the scheme, the defendants generated over $182 million in proceeds from the 7-Eleven franchise stores. Profits from those stores were shared by the defendants and 7-Eleven. The defendants have agreed to forfeit the franchise rights to ten 7-Eleven stores in New York and four 7-Eleven stores in Virginia, as well as five houses in New York worth over $1.3 million. The case announced today constitutes ICE’s largest criminal immigration forfeiture in its history. In addition, the defendants agreed to pay $2,621,114.97 in restitution for the back wages that they stole from their workers. You can read HSI’s press release on the case here.

  • Charleston, South Carolina Restaurant Owners Sentenced to Prison for Immigration and Tax Violations

The US Department of Justice, US Attorneys Office for South Carolina attorney Bill Nettles announced that Dao Ping Lin (LIN), age 52, and Jin Xian Yang (YANG), age 52, both of Charleston, South Carolina were sentenced on October 10, 2014 in federal court in Charleston, South Carolina regarding the guilty pleas they entered on October 22, 2013.  United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel of Charleston sentenced LIN to one (1) year and a day in prison and three (3) years of supervised release for Willful Failure to Truthfully Collect and Pay over Withholding Taxes, a violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7202, and six (6) months in prison for Pattern or Practice of Hiring Illegal Aliens, in violation of 8 U.S.C §§1324a(a)(1)(A) and 1324a(f)(1).  LIN’s sentences are to run concurrently.  Judge Gergel sentenced YANG to eighteen (18) months in prison and 3 years of supervised release for illegal Structuring Bank Transactions of $10,000 or less, in violation of 31 U.S.C §§ 5324(a)(3) and 5324(d)(2). 

The joint investigation revealed that LIN has owned and operated Healthy Inc., d/b/a Osaka Restaurant in Charleston since 2006. Most of LIN’s employees were illegal aliens. Osaka’s payroll returns reported the wages paid by check to LIN’s family and other legal workers. The illegal aliens’ wages, all paid in cash, were not included on Forms 941. The investigation further revealed that LIN was the responsible party for collecting, truthfully accounting for, and paying over “trust fund taxes” for Osaka Restaurant.  The illegal aliens employed by Osaka Restaurant lived in a house that LIN owned. LIN and Osaka Restaurant owned passenger vans used to transport the illegal aliens to and from the employee house and the restaurant.  After conducting surveillance and a traffic stop of an Osaka Restaurant van that contained illegal alien workers, search warrants were executed at LIN and YANG’s residence, the employee house, and Osaka Restaurant. Evidence seized during the searches included payroll sheets itemizing the amounts employees were paid by checks and the amounts employees were paid in cash. When agents searched the employee house they found two individuals on the premises. One individual had a pending asylum petition and the other individual was an illegal alien. Four additional illegal alien workers were found on the restaurant’s premises. ICE administratively arrested the five illegal aliens, who were later deported.

Agents also determined that YANG intentionally and illegally structured currency withdrawals in amounts of $10,000 or less (mostly in $9,800 increments) for the purpose of evading the filing of Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs). During the years 2007, 2008, and 2009, YANG conducted 102 structured cash withdrawal transactions totaling $999,600. She made the series of withdrawals from various branches of Bank of America, where the business bank account for LIN’s restaurant was maintained. YANG had signature authority of the account. During the course of the joint investigation, agents seized $399,619 in currency from LIN and YANG as well as a 2008 Infinity automobile. LIN and JIN agreed to the forfeiture of those seized assets, and Judge Gergel entered an order of forfeiture for those assets at the sentencing hearing. You can read the full DOJ press release here.