Employers can expect an increase in immigration compliance audits and investigations by “four to five times” beyond their current levels, the director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) announced yesterday.
This development comes after federal immigration authorities doubled potential fines for employers who fail to comply with strict verification, recordkeeping, and document retention requirements with regard to Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification). All employers are required by law to review any new hire’s original proof of identity and employment eligibility by completing Form I-9 within their first three days of work.
Completing an I-9 may seem simple to complete, but with the physical form comes complex requirements of federal immigration law. Last month, a Pennsylvania-based utility contractor was fined a record $95 million USD after failing to comply with Form I-9 requirements.
Even law-abiding employers who strive to comply with Employment Eligibility Verification rules are subject to government scrutiny and prospective liability. Innocuous mistakes such as simple errors or typos, using a past version of the form, not completing a new hire’s I-9 timely or not at all, and failure to comply with retention rules are among a myriad of complex and mandatory legal requirements.
Employers may avoid steep financial liability by establishing immigration and I-9 policies, ensuring best practices are followed, and by working with counsel to conduct internal I-9 audits to correct mistakes on the forms when possible. Employers that do not enact such policies or otherwise fail to comply could face enormous—and avoidable—financial liability.