How to deal with and ICE I-9 Compliance Audit
One of the scariest moments for a business owner (besides being served with a lawsuit) is when you receive a certified Notice of Inspection (NOI) letter from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office about an upcoming I-9 Compliance audit. An I-9 is a government form that your employees must fill out immediately after being hired and prove to the U.S. government they have a legal right to work in the United States.
The government’s website contains specific rules on when the employers must fill out the I-9 and obtain proof of work authorization. Our immigration law firm in Sacramento always recommends that one goes directly to the ICE or USCIS website to gather as much information about the proper compliance forms. Despite having a straightforward instruction guideline on how to fill out the form it can still be very intimidating to make sure you have complied with their strict procedures.
Our office has assisted business owners where we first try to reach out to the investigating officer and make sure the officer is properly notified of our legal representation and then we try our level best to make sure they do not come onto the business site. I mean who wants an ICE officer showing up at your place of business inspecting employment records and corporate documents? Next, we hand our client’s a checklist of documents we need to properly respond to the Notice of Inspection. Then we must make sure the I-9 documents, corporate records, quarterlies, and employee notices are properly compiled in an organized fashion in order to make the ICE forensic auditors’ life easier when reviewing our response. A quick note here, after California Governor Brown passed AB 450, it is also important the business owner consider this new law and its role in an I-9 compliance site visit. At minimum, you must notify your employees that an I-9 site visit may occur in the near future.
Finally, if all the compliance documents are in order and they are cross checked to make sure the I-9s are on current forms, then it is likely one of our immigration attorneys in Sacramento CA will attend an interview with an ICE agent and forensic auditor. The goal at these interviews is to confirm complete compliance with the immigration officer but sometimes a warning is just as acceptable since most written warnings do not lead to a fine. At the end of the day, the goal is to be organized and concise to avoid hefty fines. Furthermore, to show future compliance it is always recommended to be enrolled in the government’s E-Verify and IMAGE programs.