Bulletin: I-9 Compliance – Now is the Time to Assess Your Process
Now is the Perfect Time to Assess Your I-9 Process
In a recent meeting of the American Payroll Association’s Government Relations Task Force Subcommittee on Immigration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Section Chief Don Buechner affirmed what many of us already strongly suspected—that the number of audits conducted by ICE has decreased from the high water mark of FY-2013, mostly due to the backlog created by conducting such a high number of audits that year.
Employers should not construe this to mean that this lull is reason for them to drop their guard regarding I-9 compliance, and there are numerous reasons to back this up. In December of 2014, the Office of The Chief Administrative Hearing Officer, (OCAHO), hired a second administrative law judge to help clear the backlog of cases for those who appealed the ICE audit findings.
In addition, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has been very active over the past few years. The OSC consists of about 40 Washington, D.C. based attorneys who uphold the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. These Department of Justice attorneys investigate citizen status discrimination as well as national origin discrimination. Additionally, they delve into the areas of document abuse—such as employers requiring specific documents from non-citizens that are contrary to specified guidance—and are also charged with investigating instances of employer retaliation or intimidation. OSC investigations can be very time consuming and painful and often result in hefty fines, reinstatement of employees, back pay awards and injunctions intended to end the discriminatory practices.
Another group employers need to be mindful of is the E-Verify Monitoring and Compliance (M & C) group. M & C has been extremely active over the past three years and has doubled their number of compliance activities in that period—from around 42,000 in FY-2011 to nearly 88,000 in FY-20141. While this group is primarily considered an outreach arm, they do conduct frequent desk reviews and on-site audits designed to ensure employers are using E-Verify in the manner it was intended. In addition, they have the option of bringing in other agencies, such as ICE if there are major discrepancies with usage that appear to be intentional in nature.
With all of these activities in mind, employers should be encouraged to bolster their I-9 processes. The ICE backlog could be eased quickly with the addition of an added administrative law judge, and audit activities may begin to rise again. Employers should be mindful of that fact, as well as the greatly increased activities of the other groups, and should examine their standard operating procedure (SOP) manual, revisit their training programs, conduct internal audits, and consider implementation of new systems to help improve accuracy and/or central control. Employers need to have their total I-9 compliance program documented and be supremely confident in the overall process. Now is the perfect time to ensure just that.
Employers should continuously monitor the compliance landscape to keep abreast of regulations and enforcement positions that could affect their I-9 processes. Equifax Workforce Solutions can help simplify your best practices approach to I-9 management through an easily-managed technology platform that helps ensure compliance across the jurisdictions in which you do business.
Contact us to receive more information on how Equifax Workforce Solutions can assist your company in creating a strong culture of compliance with your I-9 processes.
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