Number of Form I-9 audits expected to increase significantly in 2018
The Trump administration is expected to significantly increase the number of Form I-9 employment eligibility audits for the rest of 2018.
An escalation of I-9 audits has been in the works since at least October 2017, when acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Thomas Homan announced that Homeland Security Investigations, the investigative unit of ICE,
would quintuple worksite investigations this year. The focus is on eliminating the "magnet" of U.S. jobs, considered a driving factor in illegal immigration.
"When we find (an illegal employee) at a work site, we're no longer going to turn our heads," Homan said. "We'll go after the employer who knowingly hires an illegal alien ... but we're always going to arrest a person who is here illegally. That is our job."
On an I-9 form, employers must verify both a worker's eligibility and their identity. These requirements must be strictly followed, as employers may not knowingly hire or continue to employ an individual not authorized to work in the U.S. All employers, no matter their size, are subject to an ICE audit of their workers' employment eligibility, with civil fines and criminal penalties among the punishments for organizations found not in compliance.
Considering the likely uptick in on-site investigations this year, HR professionals involved in the hiring process should always be prepared for an audit. OPENonline's I-9 Manager ensures employers stay aligned with federal and state compliance, reducing exposure to government audits and the penalties resulting from non-compliance.
The Council for Global Immigration, an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management, offers an online course on eligibility regulations. The Employment Eligibility: A Practical Guide to I-9 and E-Verify course is an overview of government eligibility laws, with a focus on Form I-9 requirements and the E-Verify system, including how to handle typical case results.
Employers should also be aware of the increase in monetary penalties assessed on a variety of offenses related to the I-9 forms themselves. For example, failure to check a box or confirm an employee dated their Form I-9 can result in a penalty of between $216 and $2,156, almost doubling the penalty range from two years ago.
The government also hiked up penalties for knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized individuals. While previous penalties for a first violation ranged from $375 to $3,200, the new penalty ranges from $538 to $4,313 for a first offense. A third citation for an unauthorized hire ups the penalty to as much as $21,563.
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