As a small business owner, you may not think that immigration policy affects you much. After all, you’re focused on running your business, not worrying about politics. However, the reality is that immigration policy can greatly impact small businesses. Here are five tips to help you navigate the world of immigration and ensure that your business stays compliant.
1. Understand the basics of immigration law
The first step in ensuring compliance with immigration law is understanding the basics. You should have a basic understanding of what visa types are available and the requirements for each style. You should also be familiar with the process for sponsoring employees for visas and green cards. Finally, you should know what the consequences are for violating immigration law. By understanding the basics, you can avoid any surprises down the road.
For example, you should know that certain visa applications require a labor certification, which you must obtain before applying. You may also need proof that no US workers are available for the position in question. It’s essential to understand how the process works so that you can avoid running into any unexpected roadblocks.
2. Know who is working for you
It is essential to know who is working for you and to verify that they are authorized to work in the United States. The best way to do this is to require all employees to provide documentation verifying their identity and authorization to work in the United States. This can be done by requiring employees to provide a passport or green card when they are hired.
The USCIS provides a list of acceptable documents for verifying identity and work authorization. You can also require employees to present a document that gives evidence of their identity and shows they are authorized to work in the United States. If an employee cannot provide documentation, you should not hire them.
3. Keep up with changes in immigration law
Immigration law is constantly changing, so it’s crucial to stay up-to-date on any changes that could affect your business. One recent change that affected small businesses is the Trump administration’s H-1B visa program. The H-1B visa category allows employers to petition for foreign professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent to work in “specialty occupations” that require specialized knowledge. As such, many small businesses use the H-1B visa category to hire foreign professionals, such as engineers, scientists, and IT workers.
In 2020, President Trump signed an executive order that would make it more difficult for small businesses to hire foreign workers. This executive order directly responded to a lawsuit filed by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015. The act prohibited companies with at least 50 employees from hiring H-1B visa holders who were paid less than $60,000 per year.
4. Use an immigration lawyer or consultant
If you don’t have time to keep up with changes in immigration law or if you need help navigate the visa process, consider working with an immigration lawyer or consultant. They can help ensure that your business is compliant with all applicable laws and help you through the visa process from start to finish. You’ll also need an immigration lawyer if you deal with immigration bonds resulting from a visa revocation or if you are being investigated by ICE.
A good immigration lawyer can help you avoid fines, penalties, and other legal repercussions that could arise from failing to comply with the law. The visa process is complex, and it’s essential to have a lawyer who knows the law. They can help you navigate the application process and ensure that your business complies with all applicable laws.
5. Be prepared for an audit
Although no one likes to think about it, there’s always a possibility that your business could be audited by Homeland Security or another government agency. If this happens, it’s essential to be prepared. Ensure you have all your employee documentation in order and be prepared to answer any questions that Homeland Security may have.
An audit can be a stressful experience, but being prepared will help minimize disruptions to your business. The best way to prepare for an audit is to have a solid understanding of the employment laws that apply to your business. The more you know about these laws and how they relate to your business, the better you’ll deal with any challenges.
Immigration policy can have a significant impact on small businesses, but there are steps you can take to ensure compliance with the law. By understanding the basics of immigration law, knowing who is working for you, and staying up-to-date on policy changes, you can minimize the impact of immigration law on your business.