Biz Rules: Young Immigrants

Author: Beau Denton

Last summer, President Obama announced that his administration would stop prosecuting and deporting illegal immigrants who moved here before turning 16 years old. Those immigrants can apply for two-year visas that allow them to work in the U.S. Since the new policy is more of a lack of action as opposed to official legislation, though, employers may find themselves in unknown territory. Permanent immigration reform has proven to be a difficult task (the long-discussed DREAM Act has stalled repeatedly in Congress), and there is no way to know how long the current deferred action policy will remain in place.

Out of an estimated 1.2 million immigrants who qualify for the two-year visas, only 200,000 have applied, says Jaensch Immigration attorney Victoria Jaensch Karins. Still, the new policy is a reminder for businesses to check their paperwork. “It’s a good idea to make sure your whole I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) system is in compliance,” says Karins. If any of your employees’ work authorizations or visas have expiration dates, make sure you know what they are; if you continue employing someone after their legal status expires, you may be penalized. (Fines start in the low thousands, but repeated infractions can lead to higher fines and potential jail time.)

At this point, employers’ best course of action is to stay organized and updated. If it is revealed in the future that an employee’s work authorization was forged, you will not be penalized as long as your paperwork is in place. Karins also recommends checking the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website (uscis.gov) regularly for updates on new legislation and policies.

Metric

101%

The increase in health costs for Florida employers between 2000 and 2011. The average premium cost per enrolled single coverage employee has gone up from $2,600 per employee to $5,216.

SOURCE: The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Scorecard thefloridascorecard.com/pillars_beta.aspx?pid=4

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