Is DHS Preparing for More Form I-9 Audits?
By: Dave Fowler
In their Immigration Insights publication
for November 2010 the law firm of Dinsmore & Shohl LLP announced that the Department
of Homeland Security (DHS) is creating a Form I-9 audit center. The announcement can
be found on their web site at http://www.dinslaw.com/immigration_insights_november_2010/.
The following is the text of the announcement.
“Soon, the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) will announce the creation of an I-9 Audit Fusion Center. This center will be
staffed by approximately 20 forensic auditors who will assist local DHS offices executing
I-9 audits for large employers. With the creation of this new center, employers can
expect DHS to ramp up enforcement and conduct I-9 audits of larger employers. It is
more important than ever for employers to ensure their I-9s are in good order, provide
I-9 training for employees handling I-9 completion and compliance, and, for those
larger employers, to ensure that there is a consistent company-wide policy in place
for the treatment of I-9s and the increased possibility of an I-9 audit.”
I have been unable to find any confirmation
on any of the DHS web sites and I don’t know where or how Dinsmore & Shohl LLP
obtained the information. However, if true, this may signal that ICE has plans on
stepping up worksite enforcement efforts again in 2011. And this time, the targets
may be larger employers.
Based on discussions, I can tell you that
ICE Special Agents cringe when DHS announces a Form I-9 audit blitz. The agents to
not look forward to collecting paper Forms I-9, copying them and any supporting documentation,
putting the copies in evidence bags to maintain the chain of custody, returning the
paper forms to the employer, and then auditing each Form I-9, including documenting
every error found. It is a painstaking process and isn’t something agents look forward
to. Personally, I’d prefer to see these agents catching bad guys rather than reviewing
Perhaps this is an opportunity for DHS to
consider using knowledgeable third parties to assist with Form I-9 audits. Any fines
assessed could be used to offset third party costs. This would expand the government’s
coverage and free up agents to catch more bad guys. Just a thought.
Anyway, this announcement should be a warning
to all employers who have not been focused on the compliance quality of their Forms
I-9 to make this a priority! It is no fun going through a Form I-9 audit and it can
be expensive, even if there are no fines. You will probably have an outside attorney
involved to assist your internal staff in responding to the audit. Even if there are
fines involved, that may not be the worst of it. The priority must be protecting your
brand. Ending up on the front page of the paper for immigration violations does not
generate revenue, reduce cost, or improve the stock price.
Get your Forms I-9 in shape now and prepare
for an audit. One of the most important steps you can take is to create a Standard
Operating Procedure (SOP) manual covering your hiring practices, including the Form
I-9 and, if used, E-Verify. Provide the SOP to your staff and train them on the proper
procedures to use. This will go a long way in letting ICE know that you are serious
about doing things the right way.
This will be the last Form I-9/E-Verify entry
for 2010. Thank you all for reading this and other TALX blogs over the last year.
Let us know your thoughts on the value they bring as well as how we can improve this
service to you.
Have a wonderful holiday season, Merry Christmas
and Happy New Year!
This weblog is sponsored by TALX.
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