E-Verify and Form i9 Compliance in the workplace continues to be a major point of concern for both the federal government and employers who may be subject to audits and/or raids.
This past year, the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched an enormous audit operation, opening almost four times the number of cases in comparison to the year prior. In 2017, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigators (HSI) unfurled just under 1,700 audit cases, with over 6,800 businesses and employers investigated in 2018.
Businesses that fail to comply with I-9 regulations can expect thousands of dollars in fines per violation, accumulating to millions of dollars in some cases.
In 2018 alone businesses were ordered to pay more than $10.2 million in judicial fines, forfeitures, and restitution, which includes a Texas business that agreed to forfeit more than $5.5 million, resulting from a five-year investigation, as well as an Oklahoma business that agreed to pay more than $1 million. HSI also levied businesses another $10.2 million in civil penalties this year.
The HSI’s enforcement strategy uses a three-pronged approach to worksite enforcement: compliance from I-9 inspections, civil fines, and referrals for debarment;. The I-9 audits and fines are being used to hopefully create a standard of compliance that can be upheld by businesses nationwide.
The Audit Process:
Once a notice of inspection is issued, an employer has three days to produce the company I-9s. After this period, ICE will commence an inspection, and if they find areas in which the company is not compliant with federal employment law, or uncover consistent mistakes regarding I-9 forms, then fines, prosecution, and/or arrests are likely to follow.
The outline of HSI’s approach consists of three phases:
* Compliance: via I-9 form inspections and civil fines
* Enforcement: through criminal prosecution and arrests of employers and unauthorized workers
* Outreach: through education and the IMAGE program (ICE’s Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers)
Ultimately, the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement Agency maintains that these raids are imperative and will continue, in order to protect the American jobs and workers from those who are not authorized to work in the U.S. In a press release issued by the agency, Executive Associate Director Derek N. Benner stated:
“Reducing illegal employment helps build another layer of border security, and reduces the continuum of crime that illegal labor facilitates, from the human smuggling networks that facilitate illegal border crossings to the associated collateral crimes, like identity theft, document and benefit fraud, and worker exploitation
Thorough knowledge of all areas of compliance is paramount for you and your business.
Here’s a free link to our I-9 compliance guide to ensure a better understanding:
Please contact us here for further information on compliance in the workplace.