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In May of this year, we learned that Immigration and Customs Enforcements (ICE) planned to increase I-9 audits, and that the agency’s focus would be on criminal cases against employers and deporting employees who are in the country illegally.

Enforcement investigations have doubled last year’s total, and arrests have nearly quadrupled. According to a SHRM article written by Roy Maurer, in a seven-month timeframe, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) opened 3,510 worksite investigations, initiated 2,282 I-9 audits, that resulted in 594 criminal and 610 administrative related arrests.

There are three reasons immigration agents may knock on an employer’s door:

  • Form I-9 audits. This audit requires the employer to provide the I-9 forms to ICE officers for inspection.
  • Site visits. These visits are compliance review visits, they are unannounced worksite visits where Fraud Detection and National Security officers come onsite to verify info on a worker’s visa petition.
  • ICE raids. Raids have returned this year after an absence of nearly a decade, the raids often occur after an ongoing investigation shows a number of undocumented workers. HSI shows up unannounced, questions workers, and potentially detains anyone suspected to be without authorization to be in the U.S.

Immigration and Customs Enforcements intends to conduct up to 15,000 Form I-9 audits per year. Additionally, ICE recently changed the way it calculates civil penalties to increase the fines imposed for I-9 violations.

Michael H. Neifach, an attorney in the Washington, D.C., region office of Jackson Lewis states “preparing for possible inspections by auditing your employment verification processes and records is an essential precaution.”

It is even more important than ever for HR professionals to ensure that they’re properly completing and retaining I-9 forms and related documents.

  • Employers must have an I-9 on file for every active employee hired after November 6, 1986.
  • Employers must have an I-9 on file for terminated employees for three years following date of hire or one year following date of termination—whichever is later.
  • The current version of the I-9 form as of the date of hire or reverification must be used.

If you need assistance auditing your I-9 forms, reach out to Purple Ink.

Stacy Ruminer
Stacy Ruminer
Stacy is an HR Consultant with Purple Ink. She is passionate about approaching daily challenges as opportunities to provide a positive, compassionate, and encouraging approach when working with clients to provide innovative and practical solutions.

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