Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for enforcing U.S. immigration laws, including auditing how employers are completing I-9 forms.  ICE conducted nearly 6,000 I-9 audits in 2018, nearly five times more than in 2017.  It’s time you get ready for an ICE audit by auditing your own I-9 policies and procedures.

Below are some proactive steps to prepare for an ICE audit.

Confirm you have I-9s for Every Employee

This sounds simple and it should be, but when was the last time you looked to see if you had I-9s for every employee?  Start with current employees and make sure you have I-9s for all of them.  Then look at past employees.  You are required to keep I-9s for three years after an employee is terminated.  Make sure you still have them.

Complete Missing I-9s

If you are missing I-9s for current employees, get them completed.  Include the proper hire date, but do not back date the completion date.  You should also prepare a short memo explaining the oversight and correction.  Also note, that if you have an employee that has been employed since November 6, 1986, you do not need an I-9 and you should not ask for one.

Audit I-9s of Current Employees

Review your I-9s to make sure that they are completed correctly.  A few key areas are:

  • Section 1 must include the employee’s name, address and date of birth.
  • Section 2 must identify the proper documents and must be signed and dated by the employer’s representative.
  • Section 3 should only be completed if the employee’s work authorization expired. In most cases this section will be blank

Correct Errors

It is best to keep a log of all errors and the corrections made.  This can be as simple as a three-column document listing the employee’s name, the error found, and the correction made.

According to the USCIS Handbook, the best way to correct an error is to line through the incorrect information, enter the correct information, and initial and date the correction.  If there are simply too many errors to effectively correct the I-9, complete a new one and staple the old one to it.

Take Away: No one wants an ICE inspection, but performing your own audit will prepare you should ICE come knocking.  As always, be sure to work with an experienced labor and employment attorney when performing your audit and in dealing with ICE.