The I-9 Audit: What You Need to Know

The I-9 employee eligibility form is no joke – especially now that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Team (ICE) has increased their amount of investigations. As of September 2011, the ICE, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, has initiated over 3,000 investigations, a 154% increase from FY2008. The ICE targets all types of businesses, from the local, five-employee hardware stores to large corporate giants – which means you too may be investigated at any time.

The ICE has already levied over $9 million in fines on non-compliant businesses. To ensure you have valid I-9 forms, take the following steps:

  • Be sure each employee has completed an I-9 form. Employers who do not receive and maintain a copy of these forms can be fined $110 to $1,100 per violation. This form must be completed regardless of whether or not the employee is a U.S. citizen or not.
  • Within three days of hire, verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S. Employees must provide documentation to verify their identity and proof of their eligibility to work in the U.S. See a complete list of eligible documents here.
  • Fill in incomplete forms. If you find an incomplete I-9 form, fill in the missing information, adding your initials, date, and time of completion.
  • Maintain a record of documentation. Employers should maintain a copy of each employee’s I-9 form throughout their employment and up to one year after they leave the company. Because employees only have three days to produce documents after receiving a Notice of Inspection (NOI), organized documentation is key.

In addition to the I-9 form, employers may receive NOI for the following: hiring records, payroll, copies of immigration filings, copies of Social Security Administration “no-match letters,” information on independent contractors, and other records to determine compliance with employment eligibility verification laws.

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