Among the various roles that ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) fulfills is to identify and remove threats to security in terms of illegal economic activities. In layman’s terms, this equates to controlling unauthorized workers in the US. In 2009, ICE collected roughly $1M in fines, and in 2013 that number rose to more than $15M, and this is a trend that will only continue to grow.

Understanding the risk of deep penalties, you’ll want to protect yourself should you undergo an ICE audit of your employees’ I-9s. The first tip to ensure a smooth audit is to conduct internal periodic audits. Depending on your industry, you may want to consider conducting internal audits more frequently. For example, if you’re a restaurant owner with high employee turnover then semi-annual audits are recommended.

When conducting audits the best place to start is to ensure that every employee has a Form I-9 on file. If any forms are missing, you will need to contact the employee and have them complete one. It is also best practice to have the most up-to-date I-9. If you are using outdated or expired I-9s, there may be critical information missing.

After you’ve established that all employees I-9s are complete, you’ll want to check documents for each employee to eliminate errors in information. Look for outdated information and have the employee update the form, or you can update and initial the form where corrections were made.

If the employee no longer works for you, but you need to submit the information, you will need to contact the employee to receive the proper documents and submit to the Department of Labor (DOL).
An increase in audit frequency, stricter regulations, and a changing workplace open you up to a world of new penalties. Perform your due diligence and you can avoid being penalized with fines.