The legal profession and the areas of the law that we practice often can become intertwined. Examples that come to mind are matrimonial law and real estate, taxation and estate planning, etc. However, there are other areas of the law that are connected that may not be so obvious – and often ignored to a company’s detriment, especially smaller companies who do not have the resources of a large corporation. One of those cross-related areas is business law (a/k/a corporate law) and immigration law.
Most people think of business law as applying to a big business or corporation. While that is certainly true, business law is essential to businesses of all sizes. Business law arises not just during times of litigation (when something has gone wrong and a business is being sued), but to many areas of a business’s structure and during its many stages of development. Business law becomes essential for an entrepreneur from the onset of the business. From the development of the company’s governing documents (operating agreements, partnership agreements, etc.), the drafting, negotiating and reviewing of contracts with customers, trade partners and suppliers to mergers and acquisitions, leasing, and employee related issues, to name a few. These issues are equally relevant and will arise to a company of one (1) as it does with a company of one thousand (1000) employees.
One of the areas of law that is ignored – often inadvertently- in the development of a business is immigration law. People often associate immigration law as a law applying to the individual person or his or her family – generally referred to as family based petitions (discussed in an earlier blog). While that is also certainly true, many people do not realize that a large component of immigration law applies to businesses. This includes those (i) that are looking to hire foreign nationals, (ii) who have businesses abroad that would like to establish a branch or subsidiary here in the United States, or (iii) that would like to invest in the United States and establish a business here outright.
In addition, U.S. businesses who already have employees on an H-1B visa also need to be aware that if an employee fails to extend their H-1B visa and stays beyond the allotted time under the visa, it could have significant consequences for both the employee and the company. The proportional impact that this would have on a smaller business is greater than it would otherwise be for a larger corporation. Ironically, large companies generally have in-house legal counsel or law firms on retainer to look out for and deal with these issues, whereas small companies generally do not.
Another area of comingled immigration and business law is I-9 compliance (discussed at length in an earlier blog). Generally, I-9 compliance is applicable to every business that operates in the United States. Companies need to be aware that failure to be I-9 compliant and failure to maintain proper records can expose a business to thousands of dollars in fines from the U.S. Government. Again, while a larger corporation can potentially absorb the fines, and more likely than not have a team or a large firm that can advise and protect against such incidents – smaller companies are often unaware and remain unprotected.
That is why it is so important for a company to have a law firm that understands both of these practice areas. By having a law firm that is experienced in both business law and immigration law, a company can be prepared to deal with the significant issues that a business can face. A firm that has experience in business development, litigation and immigration would provide a better balanced representation, anticipating a business’s needs more globally, simultaneously catering to all aspects of a business’s development. Consequently, the company will be better prepared in terms of its growth for the future.
This blog was jointly written by Nadine Yavru-sakuk, Esq. and Andrew S. Roth, Esq. The information in this blog posting is for general information purposes only. Nothing in this blog or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, emails, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information in this blog is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.