It has been three decades since the Immigration Reform and Control Act came into effect and made I-9 forms a legal business requirement for all employees in the United States. The I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form must be completed by all new hires, and they must be kept on file for at least three years or for one year after the employee leaves the company due to resignation or termination.
The filing requirement is conducive to audits made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Whenever ICE presents a Notice of I-9 Inspection to an employer, an audit is forthcoming. Penalties arising from deficient I-9 audits can be substantial. In 2012, for example, American business owners were assessed a total of $12 million for deficiencies and violations related to these audits.
One of the best methods to prepare for a potential I-9 audit by ICE agents is to perform a self-audit. Such an internal audit is not mandated by immigration law since it is not tantamount to immunity once ICE agents come knocking, however, reviewing the process of completion and keeping of I-9 forms can go a long way in terms of protecting the business from potential fines.
I-9 self-audits should be conducted in the spirit of transparency and not of discrimination. Employers should notify their workers that they are reviewing I-9 forms as preparation for audits, and they should make any corrections in private. To this effect, interpreters should be used when applicable.
The first step of the process is to consult with one or more immigration lawyers San Diego businesses trust to review the current process. Timing is crucial with regard to I-9 completion and filing. It is better to complete it and finalize it upon the hiring date instead of waiting until the new employee starts his or her job. Verification against documentation must be completed by the employee’s third day on the job.
For help preparing for an I-9 audit, don’t hesitate to reach out to Kazmi & Sakata Attorneys at Law. We are experienced immigration lawyers specializing in temporary worker visas, family immigration, and naturalization. For a free consultation, call (858) 874-0711 today.