Earlier this month, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it was notifying 1,000 companies that it will inspect their I-9s and the supporting documentation employers are supposed to maintain. ICE declined to name the businesses targeted or the industry, but said that targets range in size from small businesses to nationwide businesses and were selected based on tips or intelligence that led the agency to believe the company may be engaging in improper hiring practices.
This is yet another wakeup call that the Department of Labor and ICE are stepping up their efforts to find and eliminate ineligible workers. Through June of 2011, ICE has issued nearly 200 more audit letters than it did in all of 2010. And, for those of you that do not think an ICE audit is a big deal, please keep in mind that the average fine exceeded $11,000.00.
Preparing for an ICE Audit. It will be time well spent to review your I-9 procedures, including an internal audit. I recommend:
- Pull a handful of I-9s and review them to see if they are being completed accurately, including all the necessary signatures.
- Check to see if you have the supporting documentation required by the I-9.
- Make sure you are using the proper I-9 form. The forms have changed several times over the last few years and you need to be using the most recent form.
- If the forms are not signed, have the employee or the reviewer sign it.
While an ICE audit can be daunting, a bit of preparation can make the entire process easier and hopefully avoid a hefty fine. If you can any questions about your I-9 process or procedures, feel free to give me a call.