What happens in an ICE Form I-9 Audit?

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The ICE Form I-9 audit usually begins with the Notice of Inspection (which arrives in person along with an administrative subpoena) compelling the employer to produce the I-9 forms and other related documents within 3 business days. Typically, employers must also produce a copy of the payroll, list of current employees, Articles of Incorporation, business licenses, and social security no-match letters (if any). In some instances, ICE may request an on-site meeting with the employer to gather information about their hiring practices, I-9 procedures, and even, E-Verify use.

After a review of the I-9s has been completed, ICE may issue a Notice of Technical Violations (for technical or paperwork errors) and provide a 10-day window for the employer to make corrections. At the same time, ICE may also issue a Notice of Suspect Documents if the I-9 audit uncovers evidence of fraudulent immigration documents or a “Notice of Discrepancies” for employees who appear to lack proper work authorization. Despite these dire notices, ICE will warn employers that they should not fire the employees or take any adverse action without contacting the employee first to see if documentation (or an explanation) can be provided. If the employee is unable to provide this documentation, the employer is effectively put on notice that they may be employing an unauthorized individual – a dangerous place to be for sure.

Monetary penalties for knowingly hire and continuing to employ violations range from $375 to $16,000 per violation, with repeat offenders receiving penalties at the higher end. Penalties for substantive violations, which includes failing to produce a Form I-9, range from $110 to $1,100 per violation.

In determining penalty amounts, ICE considers five factors: the size of the business, good faith effort to comply, seriousness of violation, whether the violation involved unauthorized workers, and history of previous violations.

EMPTrust can help you with your I-9 and E-Verification process. EMPTrust’s software application allows companies to manage I-9 forms and seamlessly integrate with employment eligibility verification (E-Verify) all at one go.

Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only. Any issues regarding compliance and obligations under United States or International laws or regulations should be addressed through your legal department or outside counsel.

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