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Do I need to review I-9’s after they have been completed?

There’s been a lot of noise lately regarding immigration legislation.  Perhaps this has prompted your company to review I-9’s to ensure they’re completed properly and self-audited at least annually.

 Form I-9 may well likely be more important than many business owners or HR professionals realize.  Improper, incomplete or missing I-9’s can rack up large fines assessed by the federal government. 

“Businesses need to understand that the integrity of their employment records is just as important as the integrity of their tax records or banking files,” says Chicago-based ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) spokeswoman Gail Montennegro.  

So be on your toes where I-9’s are concerned.  Make sure your company is accurately completing its portion of the form and the employee is completing his/her section.

According to ICE, I-9 audits “are one of the most powerful tools the federal government has to enforce employment and immigration laws.”  Last summer an ICE news release announced an accelerated audit program to hold employers accountable for their hiring practices and ensure a legal work force. 

Last July ICE issued a Notice of Inspection of hiring records to 652 businesses nationwide.  Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot in the big scheme of things, yet 652 records is more than ICE issued for the entire previous fiscal year. 

The 652 businesses weren’t chosen randomly, either.  The selection process typically begins with “investigative leads or intelligence we might gather,” according to Montenegro.

Be aware that tips may come from former employees.  For example, “An anonymous phone call that a specific landscaping company or restaurant has undocumented workers (will catch ICE’s attention).”

ICE has two priorities when considering potential undocumented workers:  “egregious employers that are mistreating their work force” and “a critical infrastructure nexus” (i.e. an airport)

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