Bloomberg BNA Examines the Gig Economy and Immigration


Yesterday, the Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs ("Bloomberg BNA") published an article entitled, "The Gig is Up: Immigration Implications for the New Workforce". In this article, Bloomberg BNA examines immigration compliance issues in the gig economy - a labor market characterized by independent contractors moving from one project to another, as opposed to taking permanent, full-time jobs.

For the article, Bloomberg BNA interviewed Goel & Anderson's Managing Partner, Vic Goel, about the immigration implications of the gig economy. Mr. Goel, who is also the Chairman of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's Business Immigration Committee, explained that companies must have a legitimate reason to classify a worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee, which exempts the company from I-9 compliance obligations. Mr. Goel elaborated that "it's important to consult with immigration counsel as well as employment counsel in terms of making that determination". Furthermore, he noted that it is still illegal for a company to knowingly hire an independent contractor who is not authorized to work in the United States.

Mr. Goel noted that Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") is aware of the gig economy trend and of the perception that the gig economy could tempt companies to use the independent contractor designation to avoid I-9 responsibilities. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, employers are required to verify an employee's identity and work authorization within three days of hiring the worker and document it on Form I-9. While the I-9 process is routine, the cost of not properly documenting I-9 compliance can be staggering for violators. In the event of an audit, ICE can levy a fine of up to $1,100 per violation for uncorrected violations, such as a missing signature on an I-9 form. For example, last year ICE fined a California company $87,422 for I-9 violations, though a judge ultimately reduced the fine to $56,150.

Goel & Anderson offers companies a range of Compliance Solutions, which encompass E-Verify and Form I-9 Compliance. For more information, you can request a consultation from a Goel & Anderson attorney.