The Obama administration continues its worksite enforcement strategy of drastically increasing the number of I-9 audits performed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). On March 2, 2010, the DHS announced it would issue notices of inspection to review the hiring records of 180 businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee. The agency issued notices of inspection to 652 businesses in July 2009 and 1,000 employers in November 2009.

I-9 audits may result in expensive fines, penalties, or further criminal investigations. To avoid this, employers should perform a voluntary I-9 self-audit. Employers should confirm that I-9 Forms exist for all current employees hired on or after November 7, 1986. If I-9 Forms are missing, promptly complete new I-9 Forms with the relevant employees. Review the existing I-9 Forms for current employees to ensure they are properly completed and correct any deficiencies. The I-9 audit will take time, especially if employees must present documents to allow the employer to correct section 2 (verification) or section 3 (reverification).

In addition to conducting a self-audit, employers also should consider the following best practices to develop a comprehensive and effective immigration compliance policy:

  • Have an audit conducted by an outside source
  • Implement training to ensure I-9s are completed and retained correctly
  • Implement a system to deal with instances where an employer discovers that an employee is not work authorized

A full list of ICE's hiring best practices can be found at http://www.ice.gov/partners/opaimage/.