Noncompliance with I-9 requirements can be very costly for employers, so it is essential to understand your obligations, how to remain in compliance, and how to effectively address allegations of noncompliance. An I-9 auditing lawyer could help, particularly if an employer has received notice of inspection or a surprise visit from enforcement agents.
Although the I-9 Form is relatively simple, minor mistakes or omissions can be treated as a severe offense. However, there are steps an employer can take to correct any problems before penalties are assessed. An experienced immigration lawyer could help prepare for an I-9 audit or work to address concerns and mitigate potential penalties if an employer received notice of violations. Call today to schedule an appointment for an HR training session or internal audit of your I-9 records to ensure that you remain compliant with the government regulations.
Employers are required to keep a completed and verified I-9 form on file for each employee they hire. The I-9 form provides evidence that a person presented proof of identity and eligibility for employment.
The employee fills out part of the form, and the employer completes the rest using the identifying documents provided by the employee. Employers are expected to verify the reasonable authenticity of the provided documents.
As part of the federal requirements, employers must be able to produce copies of I-9 forms for all employees currently on the payroll, as well as those who recently discontinued employment. I-9 forms must be kept for either one year after employment ends or three years after employment started, whichever is later. An I-9 auditing lawyer could review an employer’s files to determine whether forms were maintained for all the necessary workers.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) may send an employer a Notice of Inspection (NOI) to compel them to produce I-9 forms for review. Employers should be given at least three business days to comply. In many cases, employers store I-9 forms off-site, and it can take time to retrieve the forms and the requested supporting documentation such as copies of the payroll lists and articles of incorporation. Copies must be made of all documents before submission to ICE.
After the three-day period, ICE auditors may review the documents requested looking for errors. Minor errors are referred to as technical or procedural violations. The agency must give the employer ten days to correct these errors.
The agency can assess a fine for more substantive violations of I-9 requirements. However, a lawyer could present circumstances to show why the employer should receive a warning rather than a fine or why the amount of a fine should be minimal.
The fines assessed for I-9 violations vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the offense, the history of previous violations, the good faith of the employer’s efforts to comply, the size of the business, and whether a violation included any unauthorized workers. An experienced I-9 auditing lawyer may be able to show that no violation occurred or that the breach could be corrected without penalty.
If ICE decides to assess a penalty, an immigration lawyer could present facts to justify the mitigation of the amount of the penalties. In addition, an I-9 audit lawyer can provide advice and representation throughout the audit process to help reach a positive outcome. Call today to learn more about how an attorney could help.
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