What ICE’s Aggressive Stance on I-9 Audits Means for Employers and Foreign Employees
Immigration policies are getting tougher—not just for immigrants but also for people who employ foreigners.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has released new data showing that, between October 2017 and May 2018, it opened I-9 audits on 2,282 employers, to ensure their employees were legally allowed to work in the U.S. This is a significant increase from the year previously when 1,360 audits opened between October 2016 and September 2017.
This increase in audits is due to ICE’s stated intention to enforce a 1986 law requiring “employers to verify the identity and employment eligibility of their employees and created criminal and civil sanctions for employment related violations.”
Acting Executive Associate Director of Homeland Security Investigations, Derek Brenner said: “Our worksite enforcement strategy continues to focus on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law, and the use of I-9 audits and civil fines to encourage compliance with the law.”
Brenner intends to complete more than 2,500 more workplace audits this summer.
Businesses who fail to follow the law are subject to substantial criminal and civil penalties. But what does all this mean for employers and foreign employees? It means you’ll need to know your rights—and be prepared.
How ICE Initiates an I-9 Audit
ICE serves employers with a Notice of Inspection to begin an I-9 audit. The notice is likely to compel an employer to produce all I-9 forms for employees. ICE may also ask for a copy of the payroll, a list of current employees, and your business license. The law allows employers at least three days to gather the requested documents before ICE comes to inspect them for compliance. To learn more about the inspection process, see here.
How to Prepare for an I-9 Audit
Employers should prepare by conducting regular internal audits of the business’s I-9 records, to make sure they’ve all been properly completed and are up-to-date. For new employees, offer training sessions on how to correctly fill out an I-9 form to prevent any errors.
Remember that you are required by law to have I-9s on file for all current employees and former employees who have left your employ within the last 12 months. You should also maintain valid I-9 documentation for all current and former employees, as well as a list of current employees.
What Should Foreign Employees Do?
Employees should ensure that they have completed their I-9s accurately and have valid documentation to back up their claims. If they have any questions or concerns, they should speak to their employers or discuss their issues with an experienced immigration lawyer.
If you need help with an I-9 audit issue, either as an employee or employer, please contact Zanes Law or call us at 844-666-8181 for a private consultation. Our experienced immigration attorneys work with compassion and dedication to help you obtain the best possible result.
To learn more about immigration attorney Doug Zanes, please visit his personal injury website at zaneslaw.com.