July 10, 2009

U.S. Government Targets Employers for Immigration Violations – Take Three Simple Steps to Protect Your Company Now

652 Businesses Nationwide Targeted and Counting…
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a new I-9 audit initiative this month by issuing Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to 652 businesses nationwide in one day! This is more than ICE issued throughout all of the last fiscal year and ICE promises more to come. This initiative is designed to hold employers accountable for violations of I-9 rules and ensure that only those authorized to work in the U.S. are being employed. ICE recently imposed a $40,000 fine on Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation after conducting an I-9 audit of the company’s records.

Three Simple Steps to Protect Your Company
The government audits a company’s I-9 forms to ensure employees have authorization to work in the U.S. Every U.S. employer is required to complete an I-9 form completely and correctly for each new employee. No company, big or small, is exempt from these rules. Keep in mind that the acceptable documents proving identity and work authorization have changed in the last year. Likewise the I-9 form itself has changed. And, the use of E-verify is by no means a safe harbor.

If audited, business owners are given only 3 days to produce their hiring records to ICE for inspection. With such short notice and the potential for civil fines that range from $110 to $11000 per violation, as well as criminal penalties, all companies must be proactive and take these three steps now:

  1. Ensure the company has I-9 procedures in place;
  2. Ensure that the person completing the forms has been properly trained by an immigration attorney; and
  3. Conduct regular internal audits of the I-9 forms.

Internal audits offer the checks and balances every company needs to uncover potential liability such as identity theft, employee use of fake documents, and costly mistakes in completion of I-9 forms. Internal audits also demonstrate to the government that you are serious about compliance. Shrewd employers use attorneys who have the expertise in I-9 laws and procedures to conduct internal audits, guide them through the intricacies of immigration rules, and defend them when faced with a surprise ICE audit. Considering the fines and negative publicity associated with I-9 violations, an internal audit is well worth the cost.

The Best Defense
The attorneys at Badmus Law Firm help businesses avoid the fines, penalties, and negative publicity of I-9 and other immigration violations. The problem for most businesses is that the I-9 form is deceptively simple but the immigration rules behind the form are enormously complex. Consequently, innocent mistakes are made that can cost businesses thousands in fines and an unwelcome induction into the ICE Hall of Fame. Businesses that use our expertise and follow our Immigration Audit Defense Program can steer clear of these mistakes, protect themselves against an ICE attack, and save themselves from hefty fines and public embarrassment. Contact us to build an impeccable defense before ICE contacts you.

Call 469-916-7900 ext. 2 to schedule a complimentary 15 minute assessment of your current compliance program and learn more about our Immigration Audit Defense Program.