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3 Recent Immigration Law Developments That Could Affect Your Small Business

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on September 14, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Hiring immigrants is not limited to one or two sectors or industries. From farms and factories to hedge funds and startups, businesses are being run by immigrant entrepreneurs and staffed by talented immigrants. Therefore, any new statute, order, or court decision relating to immigration will have ripple effects throughout the business community, right up to your small business's front door.

Here are three recent developments that could have a substantial impact on your small business.

1. Deadlocked Court Leaves Immigration Plan for Dead

In June, an eight-justice Supreme Court split four to four when ruling on Obama's immigration reform plan. That meant an injunction against the plan, which deferred deportation for parents of American citizens and residents and provided them a path towards working legally in the country, remains in place. This means that some 10 million undocumented immigrants, many of whom are active in the workforce, could be deported at any time. And employers could face stiff penalties for hiring them.

2. New Ideas on the I-9

Just about every employer is familiar with the Form I-9 that establishes employment eligibility verifications for immigration purposes. And many employers were conducting internal I-9 audits to confirm they were in compliance with the law. But the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division and the Department of Homeland Security's US Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch recently issued new guidance regarding I-9 audits, warning employers they couldn't be used to discriminate. That means no inquiries as to the basis of a worker's "citizen status or national origin," no requests for specific documents, no acting based on tips, and no use of the government's electronic verification system once the employee is hired.

3. Entrepreneurs From Overseas

Finally, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new rule granting immigration relief for foreign entrepreneurs. Foreign nationals whose entry into the country "would provide a significant public benefit through the substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation" can be granted "parole" status for an initial two-year period, with renewals possible for three more years if the new business reaches certain benchmarks.

New rules rarely clarify matters -- instead, they tend to layer complicated requirements on top of an already complex set of statutes. And that's especially true in the field of immigration law. So make sure you consult an experienced immigration attorney before making hiring and firing decisions based on new immigration laws.

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