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Expect I-9 Audits to Increase - March 10, 2011

Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) is continuing its efforts to enforce employer compliance by launching a new series of company audits nationally. While Iowa is not a focus state, ICE has a dedicated I-9 auditor in its Des Moines office and has doubled the number of agents in this office in the last 18 months. The Des Moines office covers the middle third (North to South) of the State.

Typically, an audit will start with a three-day notice delivered to the employer's place of business. At the end of the three-day period, the employer will be required to produce all I-9s for the last three years (both for current and terminated employees), payroll records, quarterly tax statements, and copies of any Social Security "no match" letters received.

Files will be audited for both paperwork violations and possible unauthorized employees.

Employers receiving audit notices are well-advised to contact their immigration attorney. Many steps can be taken to potentially reduce fines and penalties and to prepare for potential enforcement activity.

All employers should take this opportunity to conduct internal audits of I-9 compliance to be prepared for a government audit. Your immigration attorney can assist with this audit by reviewing all or a portion of existing I-9s and copies of any documents retained, advise you regarding legal methods to correct paperwork errors, and help you determine if additional verification of your workforce is required. I-9 training is also very helpful to avoid problems in the future, both in completing the form correctly and in recognizing fraudulent documents. Let us know if we can help.