Employers beware! On October 17, 2017, the Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that the agency intends to quadruple the number of worksite enforcement actions throughout the country. Translation: employers should expect a significant increase in the number of Form I-9 on-site inspections over the next several years. Form I-9, also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification Form, is the form employers are required to use to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all individuals hired in the United States. The increase in Form I-9 Inspections is in addition to the increased number of site visits being conducted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to verify compliance with rules and terms of employment for employees holding nonimmigrant visas. Our advice to employers? Get ready! And, more importantly, be compliant with your Form I-9 verification procedures.
ICE’s inspection process by is initiated by serving an employer with a Notice of Inspection to compel the production of Forms I-9 in as few as three business days. Remember, employers are obligated to maintain Forms I-9 for all current employees and all former employees for a period of three years from the date of hire or for one year after the employee is no longer employed, whichever is longer. In addition, employers may be required to provide supporting documentation such as payroll records, lists of current and former employees, etc. – all in short order.
Employers who fail to maintain these records, make substantive mistakes when completing the Forms I-9, or who knowingly employ undocumented workers risk significant fines, and possible criminal prosecutions of businesses, managers and/or business owners.
What can employers do to prepare for these inspections? Here are a few suggestions:
- Develop consistently applied, step-by-step procedures for completing the I-9 and responding to “no match” notices;
• Conduct regular internal I-9 audits;
- Check I-9 Central at uscis.gov/i-9central on a regular basis to find updated information regarding immigration law and employment eligibility verification;
- Provide regular training for HR personnel on Form I-9 compliance;
- Develop an ICE audit or rapid response plan; and
- Monitor Congress and the Trump Administration’s action or inaction on an extension or modification to the DACA program.
The experienced employment law attorneys and HR professionals at Clark & Gotzler can assist and advise your organization with all facets of employment authorization verification.