Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (http://www.ice.gov/) recently announced its four-year strategic plan (2010 to 2014) (http://tinyurl.com/36we3h3). One of ICE's key objectives is to “create a culture of employer compliance.” ICE intends to do so through even more “aggressive enforcement against employers” with I-9 audits, fines, and criminal charges in egregious cases.

To support “a meaningful civil [I-9] audit program,” ICE is hiring more investigators. At the same time, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) (http://tinyurl.com/2u9trsh) of the Department of Justice is actively enforcing the antidiscrimination provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) – the I-9 law.

Here are some tips for staying out of trouble with ICE and the OSC with regard to Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification (http://tinyurl.com/y9e22k):

  1. Know the rules before you act (initial I-9 completion, reverification, and internal audits). Read the I-9 Handbook for Employers (http://tinyurl.com/2unnff2). This is the government's summary of the I-9 rules.
  2. Have the same two or three trained HR staff members handle the I-9 process.
  3. Use the most current version of theI-9 Form (August 7, 2009) (http://tinyurl.com/y9e22k) for new hires going forward and for reverifications (completing § 3).
  4. Complete the I-9 Form neatly, carefully (read the I-9 Form and fill in the information requested line by line), and within the required time periods: § 1 by the first day of work; § 2 by the third business day after hire; and § 3 by the date on which the evidence of temporary work authorization expires. As reconfirmed in United States v. New China Buffet, (http://tinyurl.com/2u432zj) 10 OCAHO No. 1132, at 4-5 (March 10, 2010), late completion is a substantive violation leading to fines. CAVEAT: A late I-9 is better than no I-9. The fines should be lower. Therefore, identify missing I-9 Forms for current employees hired on or after November 7, 1986 and promptly address.
  5. Show the I-9 instructions and the I-9 List of Acceptable Documents (http://tinyurl.com/y9e22k) to the employee and allow the employee to choose a List A document OR a List B document and a List C document for § 2. Do not ask for specific documents and do not ask more documents if qualifying documents are presented.