It should come as no surprise that organizations sometimes struggle with staying on top of immigration policies. In fact, we recently surveyed human resources personnel and hiring managers from more than 440 organizations and found that 44 of employers find it difficult to understand the regulations and policies of various destination countries. In addition, 39 percent of employers admit that it’s difficult to keep accurate records, perhaps increasing chances of an audit.
Between the rapidly changing legal and political landscape and the increasingly globalized workforce, many organizations may find themselves at risk for an audit, which can be more than just a minor irritation.
Here are four quick tips to help keep your organization safe from an audit.
- Do a self-assessment
Take the time to do an honest assessment to determine the likelihood of whether your organization could face an audit. Some questions to ask yourself include:
What is the ratio of immigrant workers to U.S. workers at my organization?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) recently announced that it will be taking more robust measures to detect fraud and will specifically be more likely to investigate organizations that have a high ratio of H-1B workers to U.S. workers. Your organization may be targeted for a more stringent review or an audit based solely on these numbers. If you don’t already know your ratio, this is a good excuse to get into the practice of keeping an accurate overview of your employee numbers.
Is my organization’s information easy to find?
In the same announcement, the USCIS also stated that it will focus on cases where it is unable to validate basic business information. As a simple starting point, make sure your organization’s website is up to date and includes contact information, which makes it clear that you are a legitimate operation.
Have we been consistent with the information our organization provides to the government?
Being inconsistent with information on visa petitions, forms and other correspondence can be a red flag. Make it a practice to always refer to your organization by its correct and full name and to refer to job descriptions and job titles accurately.
Has my organization faced penalties before?
Oftentimes, a simple misconception with business travel or a misunderstanding of a regulation may have caused your organization to face a penalty, but it is important to keep in mind anything that may have put you on the USCIS’s radar.
Beyond helping you determine the possibility of facing an audit, a self-assessment will also help you find the areas where your organization needs to improve and may help you correct mistakes before they turn into major problems.
- Stay current on policies and new laws.
Working with your human resources personnel, legal department and/or consultants to make sure everyone understands policy changes and how they affect your organization is crucial in avoiding non-compliance penalties and audits.
- Keep accurate and up to date records.
Make it a policy at your organization to keep accurate records and original documentation for all employees. Not only will this make it easier if you have to renew a visa for an employee or if your organization expands into a new region, but you will also be prepared to efficiently respond to requests for information in the event of an audit.
- Provide ongoing training and support for staff.
Human resources personnel, hiring managers, legal counsel and other staff members are the first line of defense in avoiding an audit, so make sure staff are properly trained and have the support they need. An easily avoided misunderstanding that causes your organization to face a penalty or audit might be as simple as making sure your employees know the proper procedures.