Are You Ready for ICE? – and I’m Not Talking Weather!
ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is increasing their ranks and part of that effort is I-9 Audits. In 2018 ICE’s 1-9 Audits increased 5 fold! Don’t think they are only targeting large employers or industries who “traditionally” hire potentially undocumented workers. They are casting a wide and large net for employers of any size and any industry.
ICE will send you a Notice of Inspection (NOI). Once you receive a NOI, you will have 36 hours to prepare the I-9s for ICE’s inspection. They are looking for suspicious verification documents and errors in completing the form, especially dates. The penalties for these errors have increased over the past four years and are no small matter – up to $224 per error, per I-9, up to a limit per employee.
With over 60% of paper versions of I-9s having missing information or completed incorrectly, auditing your I-9s is important to do BEFORE you receive a NOI from ICE!
Here are the basic steps in conducting your own I-9 Audit:
I-9s are to be kept separate from your personnel files. You should have one file for current employees and one file for terminated employees.
Run a payroll report showing hire dates and termination dates.
Ensure you have a completed I-9 for every employee on your payroll.
You also are to retain an I-9 for every terminated employee, for one year after the termination date or 3 years after their date of hire, whichever is longer.
Destroy any I-9s that are outside that time frame for terminated employees.
Section 1 needs to have been completed by the employee by the 1st day of his or her hire.
The employer needs to have completed Section 2 within 3 days of hire.
You are to verify the information the employee provides (per the options on page 3 of the I-9 document), is valid and not expired. You do not have to have a copy of the document, but if you have it for one person, you need to have it for everyone.
When you conduct your audit, if you find any information that is not correct or omitted, you can draw a line through the incorrect data, correct it, complete the omitted information, initial and date it. DO NOT BACKDATE IT!
It is always advisable to attach a signed and dated explanation of corrective action taken to the I-9, if there are a number of corrections, sections were missing, or corrective fluid had been used in the past.
ICE provides guidance on how to self-audit, or you can request my I-9 Self-Audit Checklist from the Resources Tab on my Website. If you would like help with conducting an I-9 Audit BEFORE ICE arrives, contact me and let’s discuss how I can help you!