If your business employs immigrant workers in the U.S. Virgin Islands, there are a number of common immigration legal issues you need to master to ensure you are in complete compliance with the law.
The following are some of those pressing issues:
- Form I-9 still in effect: The U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) website still lists Form I-9, even though it actually expired on March 31, 2016. Still, businesses are required to use this form to verify that any new employees are legal residents or have the proper work documentation. Failure to produce this form could result in financial penalties.
- No changes to H1-B visa caps: Congress has placed a limit on the number of skilled foreign workers who are allowed to work in the United States with an H1-B visa. That number remains at 65,000, even though there are more than 236,000 H1-B petitions that have already been filed for the 2017 fiscal year.
- Unsure legal status of thousands of workers: There are some 50,000 workers who have their legal status in limbo. This is the result of a U.S. Supreme Court case that challenged executive orders authorizing the Department of Homeland Security to put off deporting specific illegal immigrants for up to three years. Presumably, those immigrants had been working and would continue to do so if provided with certain work permits while their deportation was deferred. Businesses employing individuals who had these permits might suddenly discover their employees are not actually eligible to work in the country.
- Immigration reform bringing new competition: Research from the Partnership for a New American Economy indicates that immigrants are 50 percent more likely to start a new company than people born in the United States. Although these businesses can provide some much-needed revitalization to local economies, they also pose new competition for existing businesses.
- Immigration reform leading to increased wages: According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, undocumented workers who achieve legal employment status will get a raise of between 5 and 10 percent. This means many employers will need to factor these raises into their projections for the coming years.
- International relations: By bringing in more skilled and unskilled workers to the United States and its territories, there could be a so-called “brain drain” in underdeveloped countries, which could in turn impact businesses that operate internationally. Companies that have locations in these underdeveloped nations could have a more difficult time finding local workers who are able to perform their job tasks.
These are just a few examples of the many immigration-related issues facing business owners across the country, including here in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Consult an experienced immigration law attorney for further guidance on these matters.
BoltNagi is a widely respected and well-established immigration law firm serving individuals, businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.