Human Resources News & Insights

Feds turning up the heat on I-9s: New audits

i-9

The feds are at it again — Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is issuing 500 new inspection notices to organizations all over the U.S. If the ICEmen cometh, would your company be ready?

ICE officials say the Notices of Inspection are the result of reports alleging employment of illegal workers, wage violations and other illegal workplace practices.

These audits go beyond a simple check of employees’ I-9 documentation, labor lawyers say. They’re also likely to involve a review of specific I-9 policies and procedures, unemployment tax records, and other documentation.

Better safe …

You’ve probably taken the steps necessary to protect your organization in the event of an ICE audit. Here’s a checklist to make sure you’ve got all the bases covered:

  • Is there a valid I-9 on file for all current employees — and each employee terminated within the last three years? The regs say you need to hang on to I-9s of terminated employees for one year from the date of firing or three years of hire date — whichever’s longer.
  • Have you established a written “immigration compliance policy”? It should include a plan for handling “no-match” letters and other inquiries from the authorities.
  • Do you have a written procedure for handling the I-9 process, and a training regimen for employees who deal with I-9s?
  • Do you have clear records of workers you’ve dismissed — or failed to hire — because you felt they weren’t legally eligible to work in the U.S.?
  • Have you joined E-Verify?
  • Have you done a recent check to make sure all your current employees are accounted for in your unemployment tax payments?
  • Has an outside consultant conducted an I-9 audit for your organization? That ensures employees won’t simply be checking their own work — which often leads to oversights and errors.

New approach for the feds

Most observers see ICE’s new audit initiative as a change from its earlier philosophy of conducting workplace raids to arrest illegal workers. Now the emphasis is on punishing firms that hire those illegal workers.

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  • martin

    This is simply a make work project for all those wealthy trial lawyers who donated to the poser some call the president.

  • wgv

    i think that if a company hires knowingly illegal workers, they should be fined. most likely they don’t pay them proper wages, have proper workers compensation, etc.
    it’s just too easy to blame President Obama for all your woes. the naysayers in this country may get their way, and then we’ll be in real trouble.

  • Keith H.

    One of the best ways to keep track of this is by scanning the completed I-9 forms to files. I scan to Acrobat and name the files by Last, First, date. I can then burn them to CD on a regular basis and hand over the CD if I get audited. Takes up less space and makes it easier to handle in a disaster. I also do New Hires state reporting and add that to the scan as well.