Scale and flexibility.
With thousands of legal and immigration professionals worldwide, we have the experience, scale and flexibility to ensure that our clients receive the highest caliber of immigration services. Everything we do as a firm is focused on enhancing the delivery of immigration services customized specifically to your needs. We continuously evaluate our services and our immigration programs to instill efficiencies and add value wherever possible.
Fragomen recognizes the importance of building and maintaining appropriate working relationships with local immigration authorities. We also understand that remaining involved at the deepest levels of immigration legislative processes can directly benefit our clients’ immigration programs.
As a team of seasoned professionals with high-level experience in government agencies and bodies, Fragomen’s Government Strategies Group is laser focused on:
- Keeping abreast of proposed changes to legislation and regulations
- Influencing evolving legislation where possible and appropriate
- Helping our firm and our clients to anticipate changes, prepare for them, and meet them head-on once implemented
Our Government Strategies Group takes a proactive approach and regularly suggests modifications and improvements to local immigration regulations and policies. By leveraging our firm’s collective knowledge of immigration in countries around the world, we are able to benchmark against other jurisdictions and offer governments a unique vantage point. As a result, we are trusted advisors and a “first port of call” for many governments seeking input on their evolving immigration systems and policies.
Members of our Government Strategies Group are regularly invited to present testimony on immigration policy and its effect on the business community before various legislatures. Members of our firm have also written white papers for various governments which have formed the basis of significant immigration reform in recent years.
Whether you are part of a company seeking guidance on immigration regulations and processes in a specific country, or a government looking for advice on how to develop the next generation of your country’s immigration system, Fragomen’s Government Strategies Group is here to help.
Understanding I-9s and IRCA Compliance
The Immigration Reform and Control Act ("IRCA") requires all U.S. employers to verify the identity and work authorization of every employee hired after November 1986. By properly completing the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on or before the first day of starting to work, the employee attests to his or her identity and work authorization status. In addition, within three days of starting work, the employee presents documentation of his or choosing to evidence the information presented, and the employer attests that the documentation has been examined and found to be genuine and related to the employee, and that the employee is, to the best of his or her knowledge, eligible to work in the United States.
In addition to federal requirements under IRCA, several states also require certain employers to comply with state-specific employment authorization verification requirements, including verifying the work authorization of all new hires using the Basic Pilot Program and/or attestations. Some of these state laws also impose penalties for the knowing or intentional employment of unauthorized workers.
While IRCA compliance may appear to entail the mere completion of a simple, one-page government form (i.e., the I-9), in fact it represents a series of complex transactions that, unless performed with precision, expose companies to significant risk and liability. Paperwork violations alone can result in civil penalties of $1,100 for each individual for whom verification was improperly completed or omitted. Employers that entirely ignore the I-9 process could be subject to pattern or practice liability, which might result in a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a six-month prison sentence.
Challenges in I-9 Program Management
Some of the most difficult challenges in I-9 program management include:
- Establishing and maintaining visibility over I-9 compliance on a company-wide basis
- Keeping company representatives trained on how to efficiently and correctly process I-9s
- Making sure there is an I-9 on file for every employee who is required to complete one, and that the forms are easily accessible in the event of an audit
- Anticipating new hire start dates and having each new employee complete his/her part of the I-9 on or before the date of hire, with the company completing the rest of the I-9 within the first three days of employment
- Processing I-9s for remote employees
- Determining whether the documents that employees present are acceptable
- Avoiding over-documentation
- Identifying and tracking forms that need to be updated or re-verified in the future
- Monitoring and timely purging of forms for terminated employees
Recent Department of Homeland Security regulations for digital handling of I-9 forms now make it possible for employers to adopt electronic tools that fully automate the completion, signature and storage of I-9 forms. This development gives permission for electronic processing, but it also raises the bar for employers, who will now increasingly be expected to maintain I-9 records with a high degree of accuracy and efficiency. At the same time, in a post-9/11 environment focusing on the security implications of illegal workers, the government is also increasing its attention to worksite enforcement and the importance of proper completion and storage of I-9 forms. Given these trends, it is more important than ever for companies to make sure that their I-9 forms are completed efficiently and correctly, and that they are readily accessible in the event of an audit. In addition, employers in certain states will need to prepare for compliance with additional requirements, potentially including verification via the E-Verify Program.
Handbook for Employers
On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States. With immigration playing a big part in the presidential campaign, changes to U.S. immigration law and policy are likely to impact not only refugee admissions and humanitarian issues, but business immigration law as well.
While changes to some government policies and procedures can be made quickly, rescission of longstanding regulations will take longer. In the longer term, new legislation related to immigration can also be expected in the new Congress.
What seems certain is that more government resources will be devoted to immigration enforcement, not just along the U.S.-Mexico border, but also in the interior of the United States. With an expected rise in investigations and audits of employers, compliance with the complicated immigration rules and regulations will be more important than ever.
News related to changes in U.S. immigration law and policy will be posted on an ongoing basis under "News & Analysis." Check back frequently for updates.
If you have questions about immigration compliance, please click on Immigration Compliance Services, or contact one of the Partners at the Professionals links on this page.
United States Services
We work with employers to prepare and submit visa applications for temporary employment in nonimmigrant visa categories including but not limited to:
- E-1/2 (treaty traders/investors)
- E-3 (Australian professionals in specialty occupations)
- H-1B (professionals in specialty occupations)
- H-1B1 (Chilean and Singaporean professionals in specialty occupations)
- L-1 (intra-company transferees)
- O (persons of extraordinary ability)
- P (certain athletes and entertainers)
- TN (certain Canadian and Mexican professionals)
We also advise clients if and when a B-1/2 Visitor visa is appropriate for short-term travel and assignments. We manage special or complex matters, including cases for senior executives and strategies for sponsoring employees who may have unusual professional backgrounds or be employed in nontraditional jobs. We provide counsel to employers on the development of immigration strategies that address changes in laws or procedures. For example, we help employers manage the transition of recent graduates from F-1 student status to temporary employment categories while contending with the annual H-1B visa cap.
We assist companies supporting employees for permanent residence (“green cards”) in all of the Employment-based green card categories, including EB-1 priority workers; EB-2 advanced degree professionals; and EB-3 professional, skilled and unskilled workers. Where the law requires a test of the U.S. labor market, we advise clients on the legally complex PERM labor certification process. Whenever possible, we help our clients to pursue immigration options that do not require labor certification, including permanent residence based on an individual’s extraordinary ability, status as an outstanding researcher or multinational manager, or impact on the U.S. national interest (national interest waiver). We also assist with petitions for permanent residence for eligible dependent family members and prepare applications for adjustment of status in the United States or visa processing abroad, including accompanying clients at personal interviews with immigration officers in the United States or at U.S. consular posts abroad, where possible and permitted.
In addition to the above, we represent individual U.S. citizens and green card holders in sponsoring their close family members for U.S. Residency. We also represent individuals that are eligible to sponsor themselves in the extraordinary ability and national interest waiver categories, as well as the green card category for G-4 Special Immigrant Retirees and Children (related to employment with international treaty organizations).
Following attainment of permanent resident status, we advise employees on the retention of their status during international assignments and provide counseling if a U.S. reentry permit is necessary. We also prepare and file applications for naturalization as a U.S. citizen.
We provide full support to dependents involved in immigration processes in the United States. Specifically, we guide employers and their employees on the optimum immigration strategies for accompanying family members, working closely with them to prepare all required documentation for timely application processing in the United States, and to help them maintain compliance with immigration requirements in the U.S. for the duration of their stay. In addition, we assist with renewals and/or changes to dependent immigration status, and follow up with authorities on a regular basis through the application process.
In today's environment of heightened immigration enforcement efforts by federal and state governments, it is imperative for employers to comply strictly with all visa and employment eligibility verification regulations. Fragomen has unrivaled experience in designing and managing the visa compliance aspects of immigration programs to help employers maintain compliance with all requirements, including the I-9/E-Verify, labor condition application (LCA), and H-1B and other visa requirements.
We can conduct internal immigration program audits for clients and provide detailed analyses to employers to assess vulnerabilities and limit exposure before the government initiates an investigation. We also represent clients at every stage of a government enforcement action using our extensive experience working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Justice. This includes representation from the initial investigation to all civil and criminal litigation, where we can act as co-counsel to criminal defense attorneys, if necessary.
To help clients maintain compliance, we provide in-depth training for human resources staff and in-house legal counsel, develop internal programs and protocols, and offer resources that support client management of robust compliance programs.
Fragomen has years of experience providing guidance on EB-5 regional center designations and amendments, investor visas for regional centers, and stand-alone projects. As a result, we offer our clients the highest level of EB-5 service and advice. We have been closely involved with the EB-5 program since its inception, and we are well-placed to help investors determine whether they are eligible to participate in the EB-5 program and to ensure that the program assists them in meeting their investment visa goals. Learn more.
The federal government and an increasing number of states require some or all employers to participate in E-Verify, an electronic employment eligibility program that confirms whether an employee is authorized to work in the United States.. Our attorneys work with employers to determine whether their organizations are subject to E-Verify requirements, review their internal policies and establish best practices that will protect them from exposure to liability, and maximize the efficiency of their processes for using the E-Verify system if required to do so.
For more information visit our I-9 Service Center.
The burden of verifying employment eligibility currently rests on employers, and there are harsh penalties for employers who deliberately hire unauthorized workers or make inadvertent errors on the eligibility verification form, known as Form I-9. Our knowledge of the regulations related to Form I-9 and the latest trends in worksite enforcement—coupled with our ability to integrate cutting-edge technology with the verification process—help us to provide the highest quality I-9 services and representation for all clients. For more information visit our I-9 Service Center.
Fragomen offers a flexible, end-to-end I-9 and E-Verify software that simplifies the complexities and challenges of today's government compliance requirements, and makes a paperless environment possible.
Developed as a complement to Fragomen’s legal representation and counsel, our technology offers:
- Electronic completion, signature and storage of I-9 forms to facilitate a paperless environment
- Step-by-step instructions for each phase of form completion
- Sample documentation for easy reference
- Standard and customizable reports
- Scalability and ability to handle millions of employee records
- Robust security, which adheres to industry standard data protection measures
For more information visit our I-9 Service Center.
While employers must be diligent in verifying the eligibility of their workforce, an overabundance of caution in the verification process—or excessive scrutiny of documents presented—can result in charges of discrimination. Guidelines to avoid violating anti-discrimination laws are essential to every company’s immigration and employment policies. Fragomen can help you strike an appropriate balance between ensuring a legal workforce and avoiding discriminatory practices, and navigate between the competing legal requirements.
Fragomen is actively and directly involved in national legislative and regulatory efforts through our Government Strategies and Compliance Group in Washington, D.C. We also have extensive involvement with the Council for Global Immigration as well as several other prominent advocacy organizations. We have a long and well-establish history of participating in legislative deliberations and we regularly advise U.S. government agencies and Congress on business immigration matters. In addition to having an impact on immigration policy through these initiatives, we maintain constant, up-to-date information regarding important decisions and proposed and pending shifts in policy.
Our Government Strategies and Compliance Group professionals work with clients on specific issues critical to their businesses in an effort to positively influence and change legislation. We also secure interpretation of regulations and policy from appropriate U.S. government agencies and liaise with regional USCIS service centers on trends in adjudication.
We offer our clients local representation for nonimmigrant and permanent residence processing at many U.S. Embassies and U.S. Consular Posts abroad through our local Fragomen offices. We employ U.S. attorneys in our offices in many high-volume destination locations outside the U.S. Our services include:
- Full consular support, including scheduling appointments, preparing visa applications, making fee payments, guidance on documentary requirements and detailed pre-interview consultations with U.S. attorneys
- Expedited and VIP U.S. Consular services, where permitted
- Acting as government liaison (including at preclearance locations, where possible)
- Filing treaty trader and investor company registration applications
- Direct consular filing of immigrant petitions for alien relatives and immigrant visa processing assistance
- Filing transportation letter, abandonment of legal permanent residence applications and returning residence applications
- Preparing and filing applications for waivers of inadmissibility
- Assisting with U.S. citizenship matters, including reports of births abroad, first-time or renewal passport applications and relinquishments of citizenship
There can be severe immigration consequences for foreign nationals that have been charged with or convicted of criminal offenses. This includes deportation from the United States and temporary or permanent bars from returning to the United States in the future, unless a waiver is available. A criminal arrest or conviction history can also jeopardize an application for U.S. citizenship.
Fragomen is able to review and analyze a client’s criminal record and advise on its immigration consequences including any available waivers or other relief. Fragomen attorneys can also work directly with criminal defense counsel to ensure that plea negotiations consider potential immigration consequences.
Fragomen can assist clients with immigration matters for both short- and long-term assignments in over 170 countries around the world. We help companies assess whether a work permit or business visitor visa is required for the traveling employee, and prepare and file necessary applications for temporary work and residence permits, entry clearances, and/or entry visas. Our Business Visa and Passport Services Group assists companies with complex and expedited business visa applications in many jurisdictions, and also provides assistance with passport applications and renewals for certain countries.
In partnership with other Fragomen offices worldwide, Fragomen can procure and authenticate documents where official documents need to be obtained and/or copies certified as true copies for a range of immigration applications. In providing document services for clients, we work with both U.S. authorities and foreign missions based in the United States. In addition, we can coordinate with certified translators to obtain sworn translations where these are required for immigration-related applications, and provide passport-related services including assistance with applications for new passports, to renew passports, or to add additional passport pages.
Fragomen’s fixed transactional fees include a range of benefits for which other firms charge significant fees. For example, our clients have access to Fragomen’s proprietary, worldwide case management portal, which allows authorized stakeholders and assignees within their company to track cases in progress, current status, and critical expiration dates.