The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently notified businesses that they had been targeted for in-person inspections of their I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Forms. This recent enforcement initiative is part of the government's efforts to hold employers accountable for their hiring practices and ensure a legal workforce across the country. ICE has stated that they are committed to establishing a meaningful inspection program to promote compliance with the law. The nationwide effort was the first step in ICE's long-term strategy to address and deter illegal employment by focusing on employers rather than on undocumented workers.
In light of ICE's increased enforcement, you should focus more resources and attention on the I-9 Form as an important compliance obligation. I-9 Forms should be completed for all your employees hired after November 6, 1986. You should perform internal audits to ensure that all I-9 Forms are fully completed and signed by the employee and employer representative. You must retain I-9 Forms during the period of employment and until the latter of three years after the date of hire or one year after the date that employment is terminated. The failure to properly complete and retain I-9s may subject your practice to criminal and civil money penalties. You should not only ensure that you do not hire or continue to employ workers you know to be ineligible for employment but should also ensure full compliance with all regulatory requirements and establish internal "best practices" to avoid liability.