July 18, 2019

Recent Uptick in ICE Notices of Inspection and Subpoenas for I-9 Records

Last month, we alerted our clients that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has resumed their practice of sending employers “no-match” letters. We provided some guidance for responding to those letters and best practices for investigating discrepancies while avoiding a wrongful termination. Recently, several employers who received SSA “no match” letters in the past have now been served by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with a Notice of Inspection and subpoena for their I-9 forms and other employment records. This may be a coincidence but could also indicate a coordinated enforcement effort and information sharing between the federal agencies.

This increase in I-9 inspections is also in line with ICE’s stated goal to significantly increase enforcement activities. If an employer is subjected to an ICE I-9 Inspection, the company will typically first be served with a written Notice of Inspection and have no less than three days to produce records including all Forms I-9. Employers are required by law to maintain original Forms I-9 for all current employees. In the case of former employees, original Forms I-9 must be retained for a period of at least three years from the date of hire or for one year after the employee is no longer employed, whichever is longer. Upon inspection, if paperwork or hiring violations are found, ICE may assess heavy fines. The following graphic represents the I-9 Inspection process, and is taken from an ICE factsheet found here.

Employers should not wait for an ICE audit or worksite inspection in order to ensure compliance with immigration laws. Our firm conducts internal audits and can determine whether your business is in compliance and is using best practices for completing Forms I-9. We can also set up a training with the individuals in your organization responsible for completing I-9s to ensure they are using current best practices. Please contact our office to schedule your internal I-9 audit or training today.

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