All U.S. employers are required to maintain I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms for every employee on the workforce. The I-9 is a fickle two-page form with an instruction book over 100 pages long. Recent ICE policy shows a renewed focus on immigration compliance enforcement. Call now to have your I-9 records audited by a professional before you’re issued a notice of inspection and the government audits them for you.
Failure to maintain I-9 compliance is a double-edged sword. Overzealous inquiries into the documentation or identity of only select employees can open an employer up to liabilities for violations of the antidiscrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Conversely, failure to properly execute and retain I-9s, either negligent or intentional, can result in monetary penalties or criminal liability for I-9 violations or knowingly hiring unauthorized workers. These penalties are currently assessed on a “per violation” basis at $110 – $1,100 per substantive I-9 violations and up to $16,000 per violation for knowingly hiring and continuing to employ unauthorized workers.
Errors on the I-9 are categorized into two varieties: “Technical/procedural violations,” which the government will give a ten-day notice to be fixed if discovered, and “substantive violations,” which will subject the employer to immediate assessment of fines if discovered. The distinction is whether the employer made a good faith effort to comply. For example, leaving out an employee’s middle name is clearly a technical violation, while omitting the employee’s signature or start date is a substantive violation. Essentially, a mistake is considered a substantive violation if it negates the purpose of the I-9 verification and the employer shows no good faith effort to comply. This is why attorney audit records are so important. First, an attorney can catch your technical and substantive violations preemptively and prescribe corrective measures. Once corrected, the employer will be better postured to avoid hefty fines in case of government inspection. Second, merely having an attorney certified audit record in your I-9 file is strong evidence of good faith compliance, which the government takes into account favorably in all enforcement investigations.
A recent audit on a multi-state framing and construction company with over 300 workers revealed that over 95% of their I-9s were afflicted by technical violations, while over 12% were afflicted with substantive violations. In other words, an audit revealed and prescribed the correction of mistakes that, if discovered by government officials, could have resulted in penalties over $200,000.00.
Call now to schedule your free and confidential consultation and onsite I-9 audit, which can be custom tailored to your business. I-9 audits are especially important in construction, information technology, manufacturing, agricultural, and resort industries that rely on foreign labor. In addition to an audit of current I-9 files and practices, also ask about I-9 intake assistance. These industries often intake groups of employees in a single day, and having an attorney onsite to coordinate the I-9 execution process can ensure a smooth process and properly filled forms.