According to the American Staffing Association, now is the time for all staffing firms (and all companies in general) to review their Form I-9 procedures to ensure that they are consistent and compliant as ICE launches another round of nationwide I-9 audits.
The Obama administration has pledged to uphold federal immigration laws by targeting and investigating employers that employ illegal immigrants. This includes a comprehensive review of Forms I-9, which employers are required to complete and retain for each employee.
Earlier this month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent hundreds of notices of inspection (NOIs) to companies throughout the U.S. ICE officials say the NOIs are the result of reports alleging employment of illegal workers, wage violations and other illegal workplace practices.
If an employer receives an NOI, it has three days to submit Forms I-9 for inspection. Depending on specific factors, an extension may be granted.
According to ICE, more than 2,000 inspections have been conducted in FY 2010. This marks an increase from 1,444 inspections in FY 2009, 503 in FY 2008, and 254 in FY 2007. So far in FY 2010, ICE has assessed $5.3 million in penalties, compared with $1,033,291 in FY 2009 and $675,209 in FY 2008. The number of criminal arrests of employers is also on the rise. The agency says the initiative illustrates its increased focus on holding employers accountable for their hiring practices and efforts to ensure a legal workforce.
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to protect your organization in the event of an ICE audit by making sure that you have a valid I-9 on file for all current employees and a written procedure for handling the I-9 process. It might also be a good time to have an outside consultant conduct an I-9 audit to ensure full compliance.