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2016 ()

Late yesterday, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would release a new Form I-9 and accompanying instruction handbook (M-274) on July 17th. The release of the new Form comes on the heels of the current I-9, which just took effect on January 22nd. Employers will only have until September 17th to implement the updated Form I-9.  
 
The significant changes to the I-9 are not within the Form itself, but within the Lists of Acceptable Documents. List C is getting a major overhaul, with every item being affected except for the social security card. This is due to the addition of a new acceptable document: the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240). Previously, employers were only able to accept Forms FS-545 and DS-1350 for Form I-9 purposes. Employers will need to re-familiarize themselves with List C to ensure proper Form I-9 completion, as well as continued non-discriminatory hiring practices.
 
Starting September 18th, employers will face fines and penalties for continuing to use older versions of the Form. I-9 Audits are on the rise, and employers can expect audits will continue to increase to ensure employers are using the new Form as mandated. Non-compliant companies will be subject to the current U.S. Department of Justice increased fee schedule, which was previously discussed in our August 23rd bLAWg post. Employers are encouraged to seek I-9 training to verify Forms are being properly completed and maintained. Internal audits can also help to reduce fines before the government auditor comes knocking.
 
GoffWilson has extensive experience with Form I-9 training workshops and audit compliance services. Our next scheduled training will take place in September 2017 in Concord, NH. Contact our office today to sign up, or if you would like more information on an internal I-9 audit for your organization. We look forward to hearing from you!

GoffWilson is excited to announce the newest member of our team, Attorney Michelle Radie-Coffin, to join us in our Concord, NH office. Michelle brings decades of experience practicing in a variety of sectors including business and tax law, but it is her passion for and knowledge of immigration—and the opportunity to solely practice immigration law—that brought her to GoffWilson.
 
In addition to practicing law, Michelle has founded, owned, and operated numerous businesses over the course of her career, putting her in the unique position of understanding the challenges facing today’s business from various perspectives. This experience has given Michelle insight into everything from day-to-day matters such as the importance of being in I-9 compliance to valuing bigger picture ideas like recruiting and hiring people with specialized skills.
 
Michelle recently completed her LLM in Taxation where she focused on international tax law. With this speciailization, Michelle will bring added value to GoffWilson’s clients seeking businesses in the US and the tax ramifications of their activities. Also, Michelle’s understanding of global operations, tax consequences that may arise and how companies navigate in a more interconnected world will be a significant benefit to GoffWilson’s clients when trying  to bring the world’s best and brightest minds to work for their businesses in the United States.
 
Michelle brings an energy and enthusiasm that is contagious, and we’re excited to see the amazing things she’ll do at GoffWilson! Contact GoffWilson today to discover how Michelle and the entire team at GoffWilson can help you. Immigration Law, it’s our passion!

View Michelle's Bio


The U.S.’s medically underserved communities and foreign-born doctors received good news today, as the  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that, starting June 26, they’ll resume premium processing for all H-1B petitions filed for medical doctors under the Conrad 30 Waiver program, as well as interested government agency waivers.

 

The Conrad 30 program plays a major role in the U.S. healthcare system, as it allows certain medical doctors to stay in the United States on temporary visas after completing their medical training to work in rural and urban areas with physician shortages. The USCIS's Acting Director James McCament said of the news, “this program improves health care access for Americans living in underserved areas, and we are pleased to resume premium processing for these petitions.”


Starting June 26, eligible petitioners for medical doctors seeking H-1B status under the Conrad 30 program, or through an interested government agency waiver, can file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Form I-907 can be filed together with an H-1B petition or separately for a pending H-1B petition.   


The USCIS also announced it plans to resume premium processing of other H-1B petitions as workloads permit. Follow our bLAWg to stay up to date on the latest on the H-1B visa and other immigration news.

 

If you have questions about what the resumption of premium processing for petitions Under the Conrad 30 Waiver Program means for you, or need assistance ensuring your paperwork is correctly filed, contact GoffWilson. GoffWilson focuses exclusively on immigration law, and has  extensive experience with both the Conrad 30 Waiver Program and the H-1B Visa, and can make sure your petition is filed correctly, allowing you to once again take advantage of this important service.




On May 17, 2017, a settlement agreement between Pasco Processing, LLC and Washington Potato Company and the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) was formalized pertaining to discrimination of U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs). The matter began back in December 2014, when the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section opened an investigation against the processing facility. Through its investigation, the OSC determined that the processing facility had engaged in a pattern of discrimination through unfair documentary practices between November 1, 2013 and October 16, 2016. Specifically, the processing facility required LPRs to present specific documents during the Form I-9 completion process. In other words, the processing facility treated these non-U.S. citizens differently based upon their citizenship/immigration status.


During the Form I-9 completion process, an employer cannot require an employee to produce specific documentation, no matter their immigration or citizenship status. The employee is permitted to choose any document or combination of documents specified in the “Lists of Acceptable Documents” attached to the Form I-9. If an employee produces acceptable documents, the employer cannot request additional documents to verify employment eligibility, so long as the documents appear genuine on their face. As the processing facility did not follow this protocol, it now has to pay $225,750 in civil penalties, pursuant to the settlement agreement with the OSC.


This case is an example of how the actions of Human Resources personnel related to the Form I-9 verification process can affect the entire organization. If you do not want to find your organization under the close watch of the government, you need to ensure that all individuals responsible for Form I-9 completion have thorough knowledge and solid understanding of the process’ requirements and limitations.


GoffWilson offers personalized Form I-9 training depending on an organization’s needs. On our website, you can find a downloadable I-9 Retention Worksheet, Completion Timeline, Acceptable Document List, and more.  Check it out here. Contact our office today for more I-9 information. We are here to help!


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on May 24, 2017 that it has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti for 6 months, starting July 23, 2017 and ending January 22, 2018. In order for a current TPS employee to continue to work in the U.S. after July 22, 2017, they must file a renewal application between May 24, 2017 and July 24, 2017. If the renewal application is timely filed, the employee will have a 180-day extension on his/her employment authorization document (i.e. EAD card), which will bring the expiration of the card to January 18, 2018.


For Form I-9 purposes, an employer can accept the expired EAD card, along with an I-797C receipt notice for the renewal application, as a combination List A document. The employee’s work authorization will have to be re-verified once they receive their new EAD card, or by January 18, 2018, whichever occurs sooner.


Not sure how to properly complete Form I-9 for your TPS employee? GoffWilson is here to help! We specialize in a variety of I-9 services for employers, including individualized tutorials and internal audits. Contact our office for more information.

 


On May 1, 2017, a new guidance on the role and use of interpreters in domestic field office interviews will go into effect. The intent of the guidance is to ensure that those who bring interpreters to certain types of interviews are getting competent language assistance, a situation that we most commonly encounter in family-based applications such as status adjustments.


Along with the new guidance, the USCIS will also introduce a new form—Form G-1256, Declaration for Interpreted USCIS Interview—which needs to be signed by both the interviewee and the interpreter in the presence of a USCIS officer before the interview. The form states that the interpreter must accurately, literally, and fully interpret for both the interviewee and the interviewing officer. It also serves as a reminder that personal information may be disclosed during the interview, and whatever is heard during the interview should remain confidential.


The new guidance also seeks to increase the consistency in interpreted interviews by establishing basic standards for interpreters. According to the new guidance, interpreters should be fluent in both English and the interviewee’s language, and able to competently translate between the two. Further, interpreters should be able to interpret impartially and without bias.


In an effort to better define who can serve as an interpreter, the guidance offers restrictions on those who can serve in the role. To serve as an interpreter, a person must be 18 years of age or older; however, in some cases, exceptions will be made for individuals between 14 and 17 years old. There will be no exemptions made for individuals under 14. Also restricted from serving as an interpreter are witnesses, but, once again, there are some instances where an exception may be made. Lastly, the interviewee’s attorneys or accredited representatives are not permitted to act as interpreters.


If a USCIS officer determines that an interpreter doesn’t fit the requirement or is restricted, the interpreter will be disqualified. In the event of a disqualification, the applicant may continue the interview using a qualified interpreter or reschedule the interview so they can bring a qualified interpreter. They may also choose to continue with the interview without an interpreter if the applicant and officer can communicate effectively in English.


Immigration rules and laws are changing rapidly, and it’s important to have someone familiar with the ins and outs of immigration on your side. At GoffWilson, our focus is solely on immigration law, and we’ve handled a multitude of cases like this over the years. If you have a question about an upcoming interview with the USCIS, contact us today. Immigration is what we do.  



On May 1, 2017, a new guidance on the role and use of interpreters in domestic field office interviews will go into effect. The intent of the guidance is to ensure that those who bring interpreters to certain types of interviews are getting competent language assistance, a situation that we most commonly encounter in family-based applications such as status adjustments. 
 
Along with the new guidance, the USCIS will also introduce a new form—Form G-1256, Declaration for Interpreted USCIS Interview—which needs to be signed by both the interviewee and the interpreter in the presence of a USCIS officer before the interview. The form states that the interpreter must accurately, literally, and fully interpret for both the interviewee and the interviewing officer. It also serves as a reminder that personal information may be disclosed during the interview, and whatever is heard during the interview should remain confidential. 
 
The new guidance also seeks to increase the consistency in interpreted interviews by establishing basic standards for interpreters. According to the new guidance, interpreters should be fluent in both English and the interviewee’s language, and able to competently translate between the two. Further, interpreters should be able to interpret impartially and without bias. 
 
In an effort to better define who can serve as an interpreter, the guidance offers restrictions on those who can serve in the role. To serve as an interpreter, a person must be 18 years of age or older; however, in some cases, exceptions will be made for individuals between 14 and 17 years old. There will be no exemptions made for individuals under 14. Also restricted from serving as an interpreter are witnesses, but, once again, there are some instances where an exception may be made. Lastly, the interviewee’s attorneys or accredited representatives are not permitted to act as interpreters. 
 
If a USCIS officer determines that an interpreter doesn’t fit the requirement or is restricted, the interpreter will be disqualified. In the event of a disqualification, the applicant may continue the interview using a qualified interpreter or reschedule the interview so they can bring a qualified interpreter. They may also choose to continue with the interview without an interpreter if the applicant and officer can communicate effectively in English. 
 
Immigration rules and laws are changing rapidly, and it’s important to have someone familiar with the ins and outs of immigration on your side. At GoffWilson, our focus is solely on immigration law, and we’ve handled a multitude of cases like this over the years. If you have a question about an upcoming interview with the USCIS, contact us today. Immigration is what we do.  
 


On April 19, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will begin issuing redesigned Permanent Resident Cards (i.e. green cards) and Employment Authorization Documents (EAD cards) on May 1st. The redesigned cards will feature the individual’s photo on both sides of the card, no longer display the person’s signature, and the permanent resident card will no longer have an optical stripe on the back enhanced graphics and fraud-resistant security features. Both cards will also omit the holder’s signature.


Employers should note that both the redesigned cards and the previously-issued cards can be used for Form I-9 purposes through their respective expiration dates. Therefore, it is important to examine the differences of each and familiarize yourself with them. This will ensure that you are not wrongfully rejecting a valid document in the future.


USCIS also announced this week that the updated Form I-9, released on November 14, 2016, contained a software error in the social security number section. For forms downloaded between November 14th and 17th that were completed on a computer, the social security numbers could appear transposed on the form. Employers should review any Forms I-9 completed during this window (or with a form downloaded during this window) to verify that the employee’s social security number appears correct. If the digits were transposed, you should have your employee draw a line through the incorrect number and enter the correct number underneath the section. Then, the employee should initial and date the change. In addition, you should include a written explanation with the Form I-9 regarding the reason for the correction.


We have seen that I-9 Audits are on the rise and employers should take action now to ensure properly completed forms are on file. Non-compliant companies can expect hefty fines due to the August 1, 2016 U.S. Department of Justice fee increase, which was previously discussed in our August 23, 2016 bLAWg post.


If you are contacted by the Immigration Service seeking to review your I-9s, call us! GoffWilson offers I-9 training in public and private settings several times throughout the year. Contact our office today and put your mind at ease and to sign up for our next session. It’s what we do.


One of our favorite things about attending the Granite State Human Resource Conference is the chance to meet with HR professionals and explain to them the various ways GoffWilson can be an asset to their business. Today’s most successful companies recognize the importance of operating on a global scale, and whether they’re looking to cherry pick the world’s best minds or simply hire someone with skills that the native-born population doesn’t possess, GoffWilson is there to help. 
 
New Hampshire employers are particularly challenged as its companies need more top talent and the unemployment rate continues to shrink. It’s here that GoffWilson can be a great benefit to New Hampshire businesses by giving them access to a larger pool of potential employees while making sure they remain in compliance of the nation’s complex and ever-changing immigration laws. 
 
If you’re planning on attending the Granite State Resource Conference, don’t forget to stop by the GoffWilson booth to learn about the many ways we can help your business, talk about changes in immigration, and let us answer any questions you may have about the new I-9 form. While you’re at our booth, sign up to win a pair of Bose Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones. And if you just can’t wait for the conference, you can always find us at GoffWilson.com
 
 

 

On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on immigration that bars people from six predominantly Muslim countries without visas from traveling to the United States. The new order represents a do-over moment for Trump, as his first executive order on immigration—commonly referred to as the “travel ban” or “Muslim ban”—has been met with criticism and has been tied up in courts across the country. Although this new executive order will most likely do nothing to damper its criticism, it has addressed many of the holes that lawyers and judges have poked into the original order.


One of the most noticeable changes to Trump’s executive order is the removal of Iraq from the list of barred countries, leaving only six (Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and Libya). Although Iraq has been removed from the ban, Iraqi nationals seeking admission into the U.S. will be subject to additional scrutiny.


Another revision to the old executive order is that the new travel ban only applies to people from the six banned countries without visas, and includes exemptions for lawful residents and visitors of the United States. Under the latest executive order, all green card holders and current visa holders are exempt from the travel ban.


The new executive order still bans refugees for 120 days, but no longer indefinitely bars Syrian refugees. At the conclusion of the 120 days, the administration will determine which countries they will reinstate refugee admissions from. At that time, the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. will also likely decline from 110,000 to 50,000. The new ban also does away with the prioritization of religious minorities, one of the provisions of the first ban that was challenged as religious discrimination.


With all the changes made to the executive order, the bad news for business travelers is that the elimination of the Visa Interview Waiver Program remains. This means that every time a visa expires, travelers will be required to attend a sit-down interview with the consular office in their home county for renewal. Previously, visa applicants were able to get their visa applications processed without an interview.


Not only have the contents of the travel ban been revised to increase its legality, but the order’s timing has also been changed to allow smoother implementation. In an effort to avoid the scenes created at airports nationwide in the wake of the original travel ban, the new executive order does not go into effect until March 16, allowing time for travelers to plan, government officials to get processes in place, and legal challenges to occur—in effect minimizing or eliminating the chaos created by the immediacy of the first order.


Immigration in the United States is changing faster than ever. This week alone has seen two policy-shifting events (click here to find out the temporary suspension of premium processing for H-1B visas). Because of this, it is more important than ever to have someone to help you navigate the complexities of immigration law. For more than thirty years, GoffWilson has worked exclusively on immigration law, and can help you meet the challenges of operating in a global world. Contact our office today to discover how GoffWilson can help you.

 
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