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3 Best Practices for Mitigating Risk in Your Public Access File

Bridge Team Member

When asked about immigration compliance and your public access file (PAF) process, you’re confident. Your documents are accessible and your process is airtight, certain that you’re audit-ready. You’re confident that you are ahead of your industry peers. Full-stop.

But is it a full-stop? Or is there more you can do to mitigate risk in your PAF process? After all, auditors will scour every inch of your PAFs, looking for non-compliance. Are you ready?

One way to further mitigate risk in your PAF is through consistent and periodic spot checks. These checks will add an additional layer of risk mitigation, ensuring that your PAF process is not only error-free today, but remains error-free.

So are you following these best practice to mitigate risk with your public access files?

Best Practice #1: Continually monitor internal compliance 

Continually monitoring the internal compliance of your PAF will help you stay ahead of any issues that could crop up. But, continual monitoring goes beyond tracking your LCA expiration dates or your document retention schedule. 

For example, we’ve seen dramatic changes in where, when, and how we work over the last year. And it doesn’t look like we’re going to achieve certainty of what the “new normal” looks like anytime soon. So, keeping track of evolving changes within work schedules or locations is critical to your immigration compliance.

As your workforce ebbs and flows through various interruptions, such as furloughs, reduction in hours, leaves of absence, or work from home situations, it’s best to consult with an immigration attorney before making changes to your international employees’ schedules. Potentially, these changes in when, where, and how international employees work may necessitate a new or amended LCA and H-1B filing, based on US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy. This is yet another step in your PAF document compliance.

However, keeping your finger on the pulse of workplace changes helps you continually monitor revisions and compliance requirements, allowing you to stay audit-ready at any point in time.

Best Practice #2: Keep track of immigration regulatory changes

Somewhat more challenging, but always critical, is keeping track of immigration regulatory changes and agency enforcement policies. Doing so allows you time to make any changes to your management process, in accordance with federal rules.

For example, some rules getting quite the attention lately are those dealing with prevailing wages, causing employers nationwide to reassess compensation structures for international employees, potentially pricing international talent out of the market. 

Some areas to pay close attention to include the current wages paid to H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 employees, while taking into consideration compensation increases or decreases, such as those associated with potential hour reductions, as mentioned above. Additionally, employers should be aware of any changes to obtaining a prevailing wage determination in addition to any challenges to current regulations or guidelines.

With the  back and forth over prevailing wages, employers need to know what, if any, changes will impact them in the future regarding compensation. Staying on top of these changes is not only critical to your ability to attract and retain top international talent, but is also key to your PAF compliance. Creating a regular communication cadence with your immigration partners to reassess your program and audit weaknesses can help ensure you’re staying in front of any complex regulatory changes.

Best Practice #3: Integrate PAF management with digital technology

Sometimes the simplest of mistakes can cause major headaches. Through automation, you can prevent the occurrence of many of these errors, as the computer flags suspicious or out-of-date entries for human review.

However, another way to mitigate risk evolving from seemingly small mistakes is to integrate your PAF management system with your tech stack or HRIS system. By doing so, you can seamlessly integrate your immigration data with data from your payroll, benefits, timesheets, and other workforce attributes—all which can potentially affect your PAF management.

Without having to jump between multiple systems, you can be assured that your immigration data is up-to-date, notifying you whether you need to make any amendments to your LCA or H-1B filings. 

By understanding how your PAF management processes fold into your overall talent management, you can tackle any compliance issues head-on, knowing that your workforce data is current across the board.

So, how do you plan on mitigating current and future risk with PAF management? Understanding the value what to include in PAFs, tips for storage and consistently leveling up your PAF management system not only helps with your compliance, now and moving forward, but it can give you—and your employees—some peace of mind.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a Bridge-affiliated partner attorney or another qualified legal professional.

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