“Review I-9 Forms in Light of Immigration Enforcement Activities”


“The federal government is increasing its immigration enforcement activities, which means it is more important than ever for HR professionals to ensure that they're properly completing and retaining I-9 forms and related documents.

“There are three circumstances in which immigration agents may knock on an employer's door, explained Becki Young, an attorney with Hammond Young Immigration Law in Silver Spring, Md.

  • “…ICE raids. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) workplace raids are extreme and don't happen often, but they have been happening during President Donald Trump's administration, Young noted. 

  • “…Site visits. Under the Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program, Fraud Detection and National Security officers make unannounced worksite visits to verify the information in a worker's visa petition as part of a compliance review.

  • Form I-9 audits. Employers are required to complete an I-9 form for each employee to verify employment eligibility in the United States. During an I-9 audit, an employer must hand over its I-9 forms to ICE officers for inspection.

“…Under the Trump administration, employers have seen more enforcement activity, and they can expect that trend to continue. ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan issued a directive calling for more worksite enforcement investigations ‘to ensure U.S. businesses maintain a culture of compliance.’ 

“…The I-9 form was created as part of the employment verification requirement under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

“…Employers must also review documents that establish identity and work authorization. The last page of Form I-9 lists documents in Column A that establish both identity and work authorization, in Column B that establish identity and in Column C that establish work authorization. 

“…The employee's documents must appear genuine. ‘If someone has a really good fake document, you are not expected to catch that,’ she noted.

“Some work authorization documents are temporary and must be reverified. ‘It's really critical that you have a good [reminder] system to make sure you are reverifying documents before they expire,’ she said.

“…Employers should be proactive and do regular self-audits, Young said. If corrections are necessary, employers should be very obvious about the changes. Use a different color pen and sign and date the changes.”

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