Are You a Human Resources Professional Handling Immigration Issues? Here are some tips from an immigration lawyer in Houston that might make your life easier.
If you work in Human Resources, particularly International HR or Global Mobility, you know the difficulties of immigration compliance and employment verification. The field is highly technical, but at the same time, unusual situations and unexpected issues frequently come up. Your role is ensure that your company is handling its HR matters – including the immigration issues – properly.
When you work with your company’s employees, you focus on the company’s needs for its workforce. Maintaining employees’ valid work authorization, determining where employees might be assigned, and retaining updated employment verification records are key. But you also know that employees may have their own needs and concerns.
Because you handle the immigration side of HR, you can end up in a tough spot in more than one way:
- You have to make company decisions about employees, including who is authorized to work in the United States and if their status has any limitations on the location, wage, and number of hours they can work.
- On the other hand, you may have to deliver disappointing or unwelcome news to employees, such as informing an employee that if he cannot produce documentation to complete an I-9 Employment Verification form, you cannot allow him be hired no matter how qualified he is. You might have to tell an employee in the U.S. on a work visa that he is being laid off and his legal status in the United States will end with his employment.
An experienced immigration lawyer will work with both employers and employees on a range of immigration matters. At the Law Office of Kathryn N. Karam, we frequently observe and assist Human Resources professionals as they deal with immigration issues. Since the needs and requirements of the company are paramount, employees’ personal immigration needs are not always handled by the company or its immigration legal service providers.
Employees who are working with your company with temporary work visas or work permits have limits on their ability to work and may have limits on what they are allowed to do outside of work. As a result, some of these employees may feel concerned about their situation and look for advice on what to do if their employment is terminated.
An employee might approach you asking about how the company can help him get a green card, and at this point you might have to tell him that your company does not help its employees obtain permanent residence. When an employee approaches you with a personal immigration issue, you are put in an uncomfortable position because personal immigration concerns are not the company’s concerns, but they become an HR issue if they begin to affect employee performance. For example, an employee might be distracted at work out of concern for her family’s immigration issues, or she might hire her own attorney to work on a personal immigration matter and if the attorney is unresponsive or unhelpful, this might jeopardize her employment-related immigration status.
If your company’s employees have immigration issues that are not paid for by your company or sanctioned by your company’s immigration legal assistance policies, your HR division or immigration law firm may consider identifying a few reputable immigration law firms or attorneys to which these employees can be referred for help and advice.
A knowledgeable immigration attorney can guide a company’s HR team through immigration issues that arise in employment scenarios. But if an HR team already has a dedicated immigration attorney or firm to work with, having an immigration lawyer in mind for employees’ personal immigration issues can help to separate these concerns from the company’s immigration-related employment issues. It can also lead to greater productivity among employees seeking assistance with their personal immigration needs and among the HR staff if they identify a few reputable, experienced immigration lawyers who can assist employees when the company chooses not to do so.
These personal immigration lawyers or independent immigration attorneys provide employees with information and knowledge to help them understand their options. Skilled immigration lawyers serve as trusted advisors in all areas of immigration law, such as immigration through family and employment, the immigration consequences of criminal issues, maintenance of permanent residence, and naturalization. When you know your employees have personal immigration needs, a skilled and creative immigration lawyer can serve as a resource to your workforce – and alleviate your stress level – by providing advice on non-company-related immigration issues.
Since the Law Office of Kathryn N. Karam PC frequently assist employees of energy companies, we wrote our guide, How to Bulletproof Your Immigration Status, to explain some of the issues energy company employees may face and give an idea of some of their immigration options. We hope this guide is helpful to your employees.