HR Tips: Time to Double Check Those I-9s

Sept. 13, 2019

Immigration and Customs Enforcement increased worksite investigations by more than 300 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Sept. 13, 2019—In response to high-profile workplace raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement this year, human resources firm Affinity HR Group offered advice to business owners who might deal with immigration inquiries from the government agency.

"While ICE has always conducted investigations, audits, and raids, all companies need to be aware of the business impacts of the heightened enforcement of immigration laws as these investigations can also expose the company to other liabilities such as tax, document, and wage fraud charges," the firm says in a post.

ICE workplace investigations jumped from 1,691 in 2017 to 6,848 in 2018, Affinity said. More are expected for 2019. Some 6,000 I-9 audit notices are expected in the second half of this year. Affinity shared tips for businesses to make sure they're compliant.

Ensure you have compliant I-9’s

Improper I-9’s can lead to fines of $559 to $22,363 per employee for knowingly hiring unauthorized and $224 to $2236 per form for paperwork errors, according to Affinity. Some employers being arrested in extreme cases. Ensure you are following I-9 documentation and recordkeeping procedures for each new hire, employee, and terminated employee.

For those who aren't aware, an I-9 form is a federal employment eligibility verification document that's filled out for each hire, no matter their citizenship or status. On this form, workers attest to their status as a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen national, a lawful permanent resident or an alien authorized to work.

If you are in a targeted industry or if you are concerned about your I-9’s, Affinity says consider having an HR consultant or employment attorney help you audit your I-9’s.

Follow-up on No-Match letters

The Social Security Administration issues No-Match letters when a W-2 does not match SSA records. According to the National Immigration Law Center, the SSA committed in 2018 to send the letters to every employer that has at least one "no-match."

Affinity says that if you receive one, work with the employee to correct as soon as possible.