Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wants employers to understand that the agency will increase Form I-9 audits, conduct more worksite raids and promote involvement in the government's voluntary compliance program (E-verify). Audits are expected to increase 4000%. It’s also important to note that civil penalties associated with violations have increased. Current penalties are between $224 and $2,236 per violation (per employee). Now more than ever, it is vital that employers ensure that Form I-9s are being completed accurately and on time for each new employee.

First, ensure that any new employee hired has a proper I-9 completed.

Next, conduct an audit of what you have on file for current staff. If you’re missing an I-9 for an employee, ask the employee to complete Section 1 of the I-9 immediately and present documentation as required in Section 2. The new form should be dated when completed, never backdated.

You should provide the employee with a copy of the I-9 and any accompanying paperwork. Then ask the employee to provide correct or updated documentation. In either case, if an employee cannot present proper documentation, you should terminate the employee immediately. If you don’t, you risk penalties for “knowingly” continuing to employ an unauthorized worker. Be sure to apply this strict termination policy consistently to avoid potential claims of discrimination.

You may not correct errors or omissions in Section 1 of the form. If you discover a problem in Section 1, ask the employee to make the correction. Employers may only make changes in Section 2 or Section 3 of the I-9.

The time you take now to review your personnel files and ensure a solid process for reviewing the I-9 when onboarding new team members will more than pay off should you face an audit. The few minutes you spend reviewing the I-9 forms could potentially save you thousands of dollars in the future!