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Immigration Reform: What Does it Mean for Employers?

I believe that employers will definitely benefit from the reform in the end of the day. Simply put, employers will face more immigration enforcement, and will need to do more immigration compliance in exchange for more legal options for their foreign-born personnel. However, the availability of legal workforce in both high-tech and low/semi-skilled sectors is a very important benefit for employers, and if immigration reform is done right, it will significantly outweigh the cost of immigration compliance.


On January 30, 2013, President Obama announced the proposed framework for comprehensive immigration reform. Several principals of the reform directly impact employers, including:

  1. Crack down on companies that hire undocumented workers,

  2. Streamline the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers, and

  3. Legalization of Undocumented Workers.


The Government will be cracking down on employers hiring undocumented workers, and employers will need to do more compliance:

  • Mandatory E-Verify: Mandatory electronic employment verification would be phased in over five years with exemptions for certain small businesses.

  • Increased and New Employer Sanctions. Penalties for hiring undocumented workers will be significantly increased, and new penalties are established for committing fraud and identity theft.

Streamlining Employment-Based Legal Immigration

  • Faster Employment-Based Green Cards: The government proposes to eliminate backlog for employment-sponsored immigration by eliminating annual country caps and adding additional visas to the system.

  • Green Cards for Graduates with Advanced STEM diplomas: Foreign graduates with PhD and Master’s Degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from a U.S. university to receive green cards providing they have found employment in the U.S.

Legalization of Undocumented Workers

  • Earned Green Cards: The proposal provides a way for undocumented workers to receive lawful permanent residency (green card) after passing national security and criminal background checks, paying taxes and a penalty.

  • Earned citizenship for DREAMers. This provision will benefit young workers, children who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.


  1. CORPORATE IMMIGRATION COMPLIANCE PLAN, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES: Review or establish your current immigration compliance plans, policies and procedures;

  2. TRAINING: Train you I-9 administrators, I-9 auditors, and Corporate Immigration Compliance Officers;

  3. I-9 AUDIT: Conduct internal I-9 audits and make corrections;

  4. EMPLOYER-SPONSORED GREEN CARD PROCESS: Begin employer-sponosred green card process for your workers earlier rather than later;

  5. NEW VISA OPTIONS: Train on new visa options when regulations are realeased by USCIS.

Posted by

Mira Mdivani Corporate Immigration Lawyer The Mdivani Law Firm, Corporate Immigration Practice 913.317.6200

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