If you are an employer, keep an eye out for executive action by the Obama Administration this summer which will impact your onboarding process and completion of the Form I-9, Employment Eligiblity Verification Form, as well as require you to address how you handle existing employees who may present a valid work authorization document.
With the U.S. Congress in recess for the month of August coupled with the limited congressional calendar, at this time it’s fair to say that comprehensive immigration reform “ain’t happening” this year. By limited congressional calendar I’m referring to the number of actual days in which Congress is in session and during which time they could take up a major legislative effort such as immigration reform. However, Congress’ inaction in this area is leading President Obama to move forward on administrative measures. What does that mean for employers? Look for some type of executive action by President Obama’s administration which would provide some form of legalization for those currently present in the United States unlawfully. Something along the lines of what he did for young immigrants in 2012 who were brought to this country as children and who were unlawfully present. Those individuals were/are eligible for a work permit. That program — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — may be replicated on a larger scale. That means more individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States (at least not lawfully) may see their immigration status legalized.
All of this could mean two things for employers. First, you will have a larger pool of indivudals showing a valid work permit (Employment Authorization Document) when completing the Form I-9. Second, existing employees could come forward seeking to “update” their employment status by presenting a valid work permit. In the latter situation, this means employers will need to reassess how they handle such in light of their policies and procedures and also in light of the company’s honesty policy.
If you are involved in Human Resources at your company, now is a good time to consider how you would handle the latter situation and whether you need a company policy with respect to a situation where an employee presents him/herself to you with possibly a new name and at the very least a valid work authorization document. Bear in mind that perhaps, when they completed the Form I-9, they showed a permanent resident card (List A document) or a driver’s license and Social Security card (List B and List C documents). Now they are presenting a valid work permit issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.