In recent weeks, employers nationwide have been ordered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to submit their I-9 employment eligibility forms and other documents for inspection. In the last week of May, a new round of approximately 500 Notices of Inspection (NOIs), directed toward employers engaged in critical infrastructure, agriculture, and other industries, was issued by ICE.
The expanding rate and scope of I-9 audits seem to indicate that companies of all sizes, types, and industries—not just the most egregious employers—are at risk of an enforcement action by ICE.
Employers Should Take a Proactive Approach
The focus on audits and other worksite enforcement actions will continue and employers should expect these surges in audits several times a year. Employers thus are reminded to review immigration compliance policies and practices.
Some steps employers should take to reduce potential fines and the chance of other sanctions being imposed should your company be the subject of an ICE I-9 audit include:
reviewing I-9 policies;
training persons responsible for I-9 completion;
conducting a self-audit of I-9 records (whether with knowledgeable internal staff or outside immigration counsel); and
considering using electronic I-9 software to improve I-9 completion accuracy.
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Andrew W. Merrills is a shareholder in the Raleigh office of Ogletree Deakins, and he chairs the firm’s Immigration Practice Group. Sarah J. Hawk is a shareholder in the Atlanta office of Ogletree Deakins, and Nicole Brooks is an Immigration Client Resources Manager in the Raleigh office of Ogletree Deakins.