Employer Compliance: I-9, E-Verify, Audits, and Training
Khurgel Immigration Law Firm (KILF), an Irvine-based Employment Immigration Law Firm, provides comprehensive workplace immigration solutions for U.S. companies. We work closely with Human Resources professionals to take the worry and hassle out of complying with the ever-changing and confusing array of immigration regulations and procedures. Our Employer Compliance Package is a one-stop solution to ensure compliance with the law so that workflow is not interrupted.
Following the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act on November 6, 1986, any U.S. company that has hired employees has been obliged to complete a Form I-9 to record identity and work authorization documents for every new hire. Form I-9 is the Employment Eligibility Verification Form issued by USCIS. This process includes an employee’s attestation of work authorization and an employer’s review of the documents presented by that employee to demonstrate identity and work authorization.
Although the form itself appears relatively uncomplicated, failure to complete and maintain I-9s properly can result in large fines and civil liability, as well as criminal fines and imprisonment. The I-9 process has recently been the subject of controversy, as immigration officials have been targeting employers to determine compliance and each failure to comply may result in a fine of up to $1,100. The number of I-9 audits conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has steadily risen in recent years, thus making sure your company is compliant is more important now than it has ever been.
We remind employers to be proactive. Do not wait until you receive a surprise audit visit from ICE or the Department of Labor (DOL) for the purpose of reviewing your I-9 Forms. Schedule a consultation with KILF today for a full review of your company’s I-9 compliance. We offer employers ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 Companies a comprehensive internal audit, which includes working with your HR Department to: conduct an internal audit of your existing I-9 forms; review your existing I-9 procedures; advise and assist with amending I-9 procedures; make technical corrections on I-9 forms, where permitted by law; and train your staff as to best practices for obtaining verifying and storing I-9 forms for the future. A detailed list of services within our Employer Compliance Package is available here.
E-Verify and IMAGE in the Workplace
E-Verify is an online system run by the U.S. government that allows employers to verify a new hire’s work authorization by checking the employee’s information against government records. Participation in E-Verify is mandatory for federal government agencies and a few others, including businesses having contracts with federal agencies. While some states have enacted laws mandating the use of E-Verify, U.S. employers doing business elsewhere participate in E-Verify voluntarily.
If there is a discrepancy between the data employees provide during the employment verification process and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Social Security Administration (SSA) records, E-Verify alerts the employer and the employee is allowed to work while he or she resolves the problem; they must contact the appropriate agency to resolve the mismatch within eight federal government work days from the referral date. If a final noncompliance is issued, the employee must be terminated.
A separate but closely related program to E-Verify is the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program. IMAGE is a voluntary program through which employers sign an agreement with the government promising to engage in certain practices to prevent unlawful employment. To become certified in IMAGE, employers must, among other requirements, enroll in E-Verify, have a written hiring and employment eligibility verification policy, conduct an internal Form I-9 audit at least once a year, and submit to an I-9 inspection.
As an employer, there are a number of factors that should go into the decision to participate in E-Verify or IMAGE. For example, many employers have to consider the costs and burdens associated with verifying employees. It is critical to have an immigration attorney evaluate I-9 forms and HR practices prior to submitting to government inspection.
KILF represents a diverse array of companies, including universities, movie studios, hospitals and research facilities, start-up information technology companies and local restaurants. Our Firm is known for our hands-on approach to solving worksite problems and ensuring best practices and worksite compliance. A detailed list of services within our Employer Compliance Package is available here. Contact us to discuss your company’s compliance and future practices.