Form I-9 Audits are Increasing Dramatically
Employers should prepare for the increased possibility of a government audit of their Forms I-9. The enforcement activity relates to the requirement that all U.S. employers verify the identity and work authorization of each employee with the Form I-9, and only employ those with proper work authorization. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has already commenced twice as many worksite investigations in 2018 than it completed in all of 2017, according to ICE's recent news release. And the heightened worksite enforcement efforts will increase over the summer, according to ICE's acting executive associate director for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). In addition to this increase in worksite investigations, criminal and administrative arrests associated with workplace immigration laws have risen significantly as well.
Employers need to be aware of the increased enforcement activity and understand the serious consequences of violations of Form I-9 rules and other immigration laws. Failure to comply can lead to criminal and civil penalties, judicial forfeitures, restitution, and debarment. Criminal arrests of employers and administrative arrests of unauthorized workers can result as well. According to HSI, worksite enforcement protects jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed. Employers should plan for the possibility of receiving a Notice of Inspection (NOI) of their Forms I-9, or even a workplace "raid."
How Can Employers Prepare?
Fortunately, there are steps employers can take to prepare for a government visit or inspection of their immigration law compliance, and to limit their potential liability. ICE and HSI are flexing their administrative muscle, and the time for compliance is now.