October 19, 2017

Under Pressure: Form I-9 Compliance Increasingly Important as ICE Quadruples Workplace Enforcement

Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Thomas Homan announced during a speech at the Heritage Foundation that he has instructed ICE to increase immigration enforcement at workplaces by four to five times the current levels. Homan said ICE will significantly raise the number of worksite inspections and prosecute more employers that knowingly hire immigrants not legally authorized to work in the United States. Worksite inspections involve auditing of an employer’s Forms I-9, in addition to other investigations. Homan also indicated that worksite investigations will involve the arrest and removal of any employees who do not have valid work authorization.

Because employers now have a greater chance of being audited, it is increasingly important to make sure that I-9 forms are completed correctly. Failure to properly complete and retain I-9 forms subjects an employer to fines. Each employer must complete Form I-9 for every employee hired after November 6, 1986, to work in the United States. The purpose of Form I-9 is to verify the identity and work authorization of each employee. Employers must retain Form I-9 during employment plus the later of one year after employment ends or three years after employment begins.

On July 17, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new version of Form I-9. Employers have been required to use that updated version of Form I-9 since September 18, 2017, and must continue to follow existing storage and retention rules for any previously completed Form I-9. Read more about Form I-9 changes or view a webinar.

In light of the inevitable increase in worksite investigations moving forward, employers should consider the following to ensure compliance:

  • Provide I-9 refresher training to HR professionals and other managers responsible for completing Section 2 of the I-9

  • Perform a self-audit of all I-9s to ensure each employee has a compliant I-9 on file

  • Review I-9 processes and policies to ensure they are up to date with the recent changes in I-9 best practices

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