New I-9 Enforcement Focus: How to Keep Employee Files in Compliance

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A big shift has occurred in the government's crackdown on illegal workers. Out: SWAT teams surrounding a factory or business and rushing in to catch workers without the proper papers. In: Auditors with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement singling out your business and poring over I-9s and other employment records, looking for any mistake in your documentation or even with your processes.

It's a less dramatic approach, but the focus is now more on catching employers than possible illegal employees. In fact, all of your people may be legal, but the government will still hold you accountable if your paperwork processes aren't up to their standards.

No employer is immune from immigration scrutiny, and an organization that ignores problems with its procedures designed to keep a legal workforce is risking ruinous fines and penalties.

Even without the passage of immigration reform legislation, investigators are finding new ways to root out potential law violations. Surprisingly, in some instances, investigators have gotten around the requirement of giving employers 72 hours of notice that their I-9s are going to be inspected, in this fashion: When they show up on the scene, they don't ask for the I-9s, therefore, the notice requirement isn't triggered. Instead, they immediately begin interviewing employees and find out from them if your immigration documentation processes are lacking in any way. For these reasons and many more, employers need up-to-date, expert information to ensure they’re in compliance with the law.