I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification and Employer Form I-9 Compliance -- Employers Targeted by ICE for I-9 Worksite Enforcement and I-9 Audits
NEW Form I-9 MUST Be Used!
ICE Targets Employers with I-9 Audits and Expanded Worksite Enforcement and I-9 Audits
Every employer is required by law to complete a Form I-9 and verify each worker's employment eligibility and properly complete and retain I-9 Forms. I-9 compliance errors and violations carry stiff civil penalties and criminal liabilities. Businesses, owners, executives, managers and supervisors are being fined and prosecuted in record numbers for I-9 violations. Imprisonment, asset forfeiture, forfeiture of profits, and even treble damages in RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) lawsuits by competitors can be the result of common I-9 errors and I-9 violations. There is no "good faith defense for I-9 paper work violations.
I-9 compliance (and E-verify for registered employers) require that employers verify all workers’ employment eligibility or work authorization. Persons not authorized for employment, whether documented foreign nationals or "illegal immigrants" generally do not have authorization to work in the United States. The I-9 laws and the employment eligibility verification process restrict employment of illegal or undocumented immigrants and employment of persons who are not "employment authorized". The I-9 laws require employers to verify employment eligibility of every worker by properly completing and retaining Forms I-9. work authorization.
Form I-9 must be correctly completed, without any unlawful employer action related to documents presented by the employee or the manner in which the employer reviews the documents presented. The Forms I-9 must be reverified when appropriate. The employer must properly retain its Forms I-9, generally for several years. Forms I-9 must be available for Immmigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) audits or invesstigation and Department of Labor (DOL) wage and hour audits or investigations. Many states have their own mini-I-9 and mini-E-Verify laws that further complicate the employer I-9 compliance circumstances.
The labyrinth of employment eligibility verification and I-9 laws have become a major employer compliance, staffing and regular training matter for all businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, from WalMart-size businesses to small local employers. The I-9 compliance process can be particularly complicated for businesses with multiple locations and those that use independent contractors and subcontractors.
Employer I-9 liabilities and I-9 penalties include civil penalties which can amount to millions to dollars and are assessed on a per occurrence or per employee basis. Employer I-9 and employment eligibility verification processes liabilities and penalties can include criminal penalties for both the company and personal liability of owners, executives, managers and supervisors. Criminal liability can involve fines, asset forfeiture, loss of profits and individual imprisonment for many federal crimes that are associated with violations of the employment eligibility verification process.
Defending I-9 prosecutions is expensive in time and money, and is especially costly to individual executives, officers, managers and supervisors. When faced with the time nd expense of litigation and in light of the substantial jail time associated with federak criminal penalties companies and individuals are more often than not squeezed into pleading guilty.
ICE's New Aggressive I-9 Enforcement Has Teeth!
A new era of I-9 enforcement is underway and EVERY EMPLOYER IS AT RISK.
"Ice is not just targeting workers, but also the people that employ them. That's a challenge. There are millions of employers in the United States."
---John Morton, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Director of ICE), 2009--
"We want to send the message that your cost of business just went up because you risk your livelihood, your corporate reputation and your personal freedom."
"We found that the fines were not an effective deterrent, employers treated them as part of the cost of doing business... Just a small fine or a slap on the wrist is not a deterrent...we see more robust criminal cases...the prospect of 10 years in prison carries much sharper teeth than just a small fine."
---Julie Myers, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Previous Director of ICE, 2006--2008)
Employer Liability Extends to Circumstantial Evidence and Constructive Knowledge
It is unlawful to knowingly hire or continue to employ unauthorized workers. "Knowingly hire" includes "constructive knowledge". The requisite employer's knowledge that an employee is not authorized for employment may be constructive knowledge when it may be fairly inferred through notice of certain facts which through exercise of reasonable care would lead a person to know about, or the employer deliberately fails to investigate such facts.
Employer constructive knowledge extends to its subcontractors' and independent contractors' I-9 compliance. Employers may be responsible for properly completing and retaining Forms I-9 for workers on its worksites, depending on the circumstances, regardless of whether the employer is withholding taxes, for example when the employer thinks the worker is an independent contractor or subcontrcator.
For almost 20 years I-9 compliance and enforcement has been lax. However DHS and ICE now aggressively pursues worksite enforcement actions and Form I-9 compliance, inspecting employer I-9 Forms, reviewing employer employment verification practices and compliance with I-9 laws, and seeks criminal penalties for I-9 violators. In addition to hefty civil fines, I-9 violations, when criminally prosecuted, can result in imprisonment. The "employer" subject to imprisonment can be owners, officers, executives, supervisors, managers and human resources personnel. In other words, YOU ARE AT RISK FOR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND IMPRISONMENT!
Competitor companies now sue I-9 violators in RICO lawsuits which entitle them to receive treble damages and attorney's fees.
Our I-9 Compliance Services Help Employers, Executives, Supervisors and Managers Avoid Fines and Prosecution
I am a North Carolina immigration lawyer. I practice exclusively immigration law for North Carolina clients and for clients throughout the United States, and the world. Immigration law is a federal law practice. Though I am located in North Carolina, I accept immigration and visa law clients from anywhere in the U.S., and the world.
My firm can assist you with Form I-9 consulting. I work with companies and their managers and supervisors to improve their I-9 compliance and hiring practices. I help companies develop and implement Form I-9 compliance best practices. I conduct regular I-9 compliance training for client. I help businesses devlop I-9 compliance policies and procedures. I help companies conduct internail I-9 comp,any audits to identify and correct I-9 errors before ICE arrives.
We al know MISTAKES HAPPEN. Intelligent, diligent companies identify mistakes before they become costly. Form I-9 fines are per occurrence and per employee; as in how many Forms I-9 have you completely over the years?
Every employer must regularly review its Forms I-9 compliance practices. It is quite simply negligence not to regularly review your I-9 compliance practices and training.
Contractors and other employers who hire subcontractors and independent contractors are particularly prone to I-9 compliance errors.
A Forms I-9 internal audit helps protect employers, the company and the owners, executives, manegers and supervisors from government fines and criminal penalties, helps ensure that all I-9 Forms comply with the law, and helps you avoid I-9 liabilities and penalties.
Our Form I-9 services will assist your company to develop I-9 compliance best practices, including preparing written I-9 policies and procedures, training human resources or other staff who handle your I-9s, conducting regular internal company I-9 audits, and preparing you to properly respond to an ICE I-9 investigation or ICE worksite enforcement action. Our I-9 services will help ensure that only persons lawfully authorized to work are allowed access into your workplace. As part of our services, we will work with you to make any corrections required on your employees' I-9 Forms.