I-9 Audits On The Rise- ICE Increasing Worksite Enforcement Audits By 400%

In July 2018, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that in the last six months, it issued 5,200 notices of inspection to employers in the U.S. in order to audit their Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification documents.

This is a significant increase compared to only 1,360 audits initiated in all of the last fiscal year, which is consistent with a 2017 announcement by then-acting deputy director of ICE, Tom Homan, who stated that ICE planned to increase worksite enforcement audits by 400%.

Under the law, employers are required to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all individuals they hire, and to document that information using the Form I-9. Failure to comply with immigration laws (including incorrect Forms I-9 and knowing employment of unauthorized workers) can result in criminal and civil penalties. In fiscal year 2017, businesses were ordered to pay $97.6 million in judicial forfeitures, fines, and restitution, and $7.8 million in civil fines.

In addition to I-9 audits, ICE’s current worksite enforcement strategy includes conducting ICE raids and the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law. A few recent highly publicized ICE raids, which took place in Ohio and Tennessee, involved the detention of dozens of workers at each business.

Due to this uptick in I-9 audits, employers should conduct regular self-audits of their I-9s to ensure compliance with the law.

Eileen Momblanco

Eileen joined Laner Muchin in 2005 as an associate and has been a partner at the Firm since 2009. Eileen has devoted her career to the practice of immigration law; she has focused her practice on employment-based immigration law and has represented many large, multinational companies located throughout the U.S. Eileen is currently on the Board of Directors for the Federal Bar Association, Chicago Chapter, and is the Chair of the Immigration Section of the Federal Bar Association, Chicago Chapter. She also recently served on the National Verification & Worksite Enforcement Liaison Committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Eileen has spoken on several panels covering various immigration-related topics such as I-9 Compliance, Worksite Enforcement and Nonimmigrant Visas for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Chicago Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association and the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education.

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