Get Your Form I-9 House In Order And Consider Using E-Verify in 2014

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The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has recently enhanced its worksite enforcement activities, under a directive from former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to shift enforcement to employers to deter illegal employment. As a result, the number of Form I-9 audits for employers conducted by ICE, along with civil and criminal fines for Form I-9 violations, have increased significantly.  In the last fiscal year, monetary fines increased to $12.4 million, compared to $10.4 million the prior year.  Employers should prepare for random ICE I-9 audits by conducting internal I-9 audits on an annual or semi-annual basis.  Corrections to the Form I-9 should be carefully made under the guidance of a Form I-9 expert.  Otherwise, if corrections to the Form I-9 are not completed in accordance with ICE guidelines, an internal audit could lead to increased liability for the employer.  In addition to an internal I-9 audit, employers should also consider E-Verify.  Although Comprehensive Immigration Reform did not pass last year, advocates are still pushing for changes in immigration law in 2014.  One proposal is to make E-Verify mandatory.  Although E-Verify is still voluntary in most states (e.g., Illinois) for employers who are not federal contractors, employers should consider the benefit of using E-Verify now, such as having a new hire’s information verified by both the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.