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Employers Beware! ICE Has Overseen a Massive Surge in I-9 Audits

Posted by Kripa Upadhyay | Aug 06, 2018

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on July 24, 2018, announced that they have served Notice of Inspections (NOI) to more than 5,200 businesses around the country since January demanding form I-9 records from businesses.

A NOI informs business owners that ICE is going to audit their hiring records to determine whether they are complying with existing law. The NOI generally demands the original I-9 forms of all current employees and usually former employees for a period going back one to three years. Additionally, the NOI will include a list of all current and former employees including hire and termination dates; payroll records; quarterly wage and hour reports; business information, such as names of owners, Articles of Incorporation, and business licenses; and a list of related companies and subcontractors. An employer should contact their immigration compliance counsel immediately upon being served with a NOI.An employer has three days to comply with the NOI; therefore, compliance prior to receiving NOI is absolutely crucial.

The current scale of I-9 Audits and site visits to employers is at unprecedented levels, and is in keeping with the stated goal of a two-stage agency program aimed at creating a “culture of compliance” among employers.

  • There were 3,510 site inspections between October 01, 2017 – May 04, 2018. More than all site inspections conducted in FY 2017. Officials expect that number to reach about 5,500 by the end of the current fiscal year
  • ICE had initiated 2,282 employer audits between October 01, 2017 and May 04, 2018 (up from 1,360 in all of FY 2017)
  • ICE has also made 1,2014 arrests during the first part of FY 2018 (up from 311 during all of FY 2017)

Cost of Non-Compliance: Employers who violate I-9 rules are subject to civil and criminal penalties. Civil fines for I-9 paperwork violations range from $224 to $2,236 per violation, depending on whether the employer has committed repeated violations. Penalties for knowingly hiring or continuing to employ an unauthorized worker range from $559 to $22,363 per worker. ICE can further increase penalty amounts if there are aggravating circumstances. Criminal penalties are possible if an employer has engaged in a pattern or practice of knowingly employing unauthorized workers or has committed other serious violations.

In the current environment, it is crucial that employers have a comprehensive and effective immigration compliance program. Proper knowledge of completion and maintenance of I-9 forms along with a policy for Internal review of an organization's compliance program can help to remediate errors, identify areas for improvement, and minimize the risk of future violations and penalties.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should your organization need assistance in this regard.

About the Author

Kripa Upadhyay

Kripa Upadhyay Founder/Attorney [email protected] EDUCATION Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, WA, Juris Doctor (JD)  May 2007 ADMISSIONS Washington State Bar Association: Admitted May 2008 U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Washington: Admitted 2009 U.S...