San Jose and Silicon Valley Immigration Law Firm Explains How to Survive the Surge in I-9 Audits
Are you regularly auditing your I-9 compliance? If not, you may be in for a rude awakening. ICE, or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has ramped up their I-9 enforcement tremendously under the Trump administration. Arrests are up 400%, and worksite investigations are double what they were in 2017. The cost to companies is extreme, $97.6 million in forfeitures, fines, and restitution with a further $7.8 million in civil penalties. In 2017, Asplundh Tree Experts Co. was assessed a $95 million penalty—$80 million in forfeited funds and a $15 million fine. We attached an ICE press release touting their work but want to focus this article on what you should be doing as a business to avoid an I-9 enforcement action from disrupting your business.
If you would like help auditing your I-9 compliance, need I-9 training, or if ICE has issued a Notice of Inspection (NOI) to your company, the attorneys at SAC Attorneys LLP have expertise in both immigration and human resources law and are positioned to provide you with immediate counsel. Call us for your free consultation today at (408) 436-0789.What’s an NOI?
As you likely know, Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. An NOI is a tool used by ICE to notify a company that the government intends to audit the company’s Form I-9’s. Do not be confused and think that an ICE audit is not a serious matter. An NOI can be used to create a case for significant civil penalties and may even form the basis for a subsequent criminal prosecution.What Should Your Company Already be Doing to Avoid I-9 Issues?
I-9 Audits. All companies should undertake regular, internal I-9 audits under the direction of experienced human resources counsel. Companies should scrutinize their pre-hire applications, I-9 retention schedules, photocopying policies, reverification, and other human resources processes to ensure compliance with immigration law. The audit should also include an internal assessment of human resources policies and procedures.
After the audit is complete, the company should replace any I-9’s that are missing, fix any errors in existing I-9’s, as well as taking appropriate action to address expired work authorizations, fraudulent documents, and other issues. Demonstrating that you proactively addressed any failures may establish a good faith defense in the event of an ICE audit, and often minimizes fines and penalties.
Train Your Human Resources Staff. While updated and carefully written policies and procedures can reduce errors, HR personnel turnover, combined with the new Form I-9 and updated guidance, make training, job aids, and in-house subject matter expertise critical. Aside from imparting technical knowledge, training should highlight the importance of the Form I-9 and the need to take the application and hiring process seriously. Experienced human resources counsel can help you develop and deliver this training. Review free government related online resources and organize an accessible library for your human resources staff and keep those materials up to date. This is the time to invest in human resources. Prioritize immigration compliance today to prevent a far costlier NOI process from interrupting your business tomorrow.Get the Legal Help You Need Today
ICE has shown that they intend to scrutinize every company’s hiring practices for the foreseeable future. Whether you know you are employing foreign workers or believe that your workforce is entirely domestic, you cannot afford to handle immigration and visa issues informally. The current administration has voiced its intolerance for violations, and ICE’s enforcement numbers indicate their seriousness. You need expert human resources and immigration law advice. For a free initial consultation, contact SAC Attorneys LLP today at (408) 436-0789. Based in San Jose, California, our firm is prepared to represent clients in Mountain View, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Fremont, Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley, and around the world.