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Are you planning to hire immigrants?

As a New Jersey employer, you're likely aware of the labor shortage in America. In fact, this might be one of several reasons you're considering hiring employees who are emigrating here from other countries. Many business owners also believe that having a diverse workforce helps them become more competitive on a global scale. Skilled immigrants often possess a variety of skills and accreditations in many different fields.

With lower birth rates and many workers nearing retirement, it's not uncommon for employers, such as yourself, to draw from the overseas pool of prospective employees. The process of bringing immigrant workers onto your payroll can be quite complicated, however.

Learn the ropes before climbing

If you've never hired a visa worker, you'll want to gain as much knowledge about the system before entering the process. Doing so may help you avoid serious problems. Several key factors are important, including the following:

  • I-9 forms: This is the single most important document regarding applications for selection of employees through the immigration system.
  • Social Security Administration Number Verification Service: When an employee enters a social security number for payroll withholding or to fill out an I-9 form, an employer can request verification that the name and number are properly matched.
  • E-verify: This system uses data from Homeland Security, as well as the Social Security Administration to verify employee authorization of newly hired immigrants.
  • IMAGE: Employers can obtain advanced federal training and become certified. Participation in this program means employers automatically consent to I-9 audits.

The above list provides various means for preventing employment of illegal workers. Although not full-proof, by taking advantage of available resources, you may be able to avoid many potential immigrant worker-related problems.

Penalties for hiring illegal workers

As an employer, it's up to you to verify employee work authorization. Employers who do not comply with regulations are subject to criminal and civil penalties, such as the following:

  • Fines: Monetary fines per employee can be issued against any employer, even if it's a first offense.
  • Loss of license: Employers are at risk for losing their business licenses if cited for hiring illegal workers.
  • Prison: Some situations are deemed serious enough to warrant time in prison, such as those that involve harboring illegal immigrants.

Receiving a letter from the federal government concerning a discrepancy regarding a worker's social security number, or facing other types of problems when filling out I-9 forms or hiring new workers can be stressful. It can also cause production and profitability delays in your company. The complex system for hiring immigrants to work in the United States may be less arduous if you seek outside support from an experienced immigration attorney who has experience navigating the immigration system.

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