Labor & Employment

The Immigration Reform and Control Act requires that all U.S. employers verify the identity and eligibility of all workers, whether they are U.S. citizens or not, by completing the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. A company that fails to comply with Form I-9 requirements may face audits, fines, and even criminal prosecution.

In recent years, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, has increased the number of workplace I-9 audits and enforcement actions in an effort to decrease the number of illegal workers in the United States. The number of criminal prosecutions of employers found to be in violation of I-9 employment eligibility verification has also risen steadily over the past few years.

With stricter enforcement efforts, it is essential that every U.S. employer ensure that they engage in proper I-9 intake and retention. And it’s not just the hiring of unauthorized workers that can expose an employer to potential liability. Fines are often assessed due to simple “paperwork” errors or technical violations, if an employer fails to properly fill out or retain I-9s. The base penalties for failure to comply with the I-9 requirements now range from $375 to $3,200 per form – numbers that can result in six-figure fines in the event of an ICE audit.

Phillips Lytle can help businesses avoid or minimize such fines by ensuring proper I-9 compliance procedures. Our attorneys regularly provide counsel to employers on I-9 completion and compliance, perform internal audits of I-9 forms, and train employees on how to properly complete and store I-9 records. We also assist employers on responses to I-9 notices of inspection, notices of intent to fine, raids and criminal enforcement actions.

Specifically, our attorneys:

  • Develop and maintain I-9 compliance procedures for your business.
  • Train your staff on I-9 intake, completion and verification.
  • Perform an internal audit of all I-9 forms and correct any errors found on your employees’ I-9 paperwork to ensure that your business can promptly comply with an ICE audit.
  • Represent your business in the event of a government audit or investigation.
  • Assist with negotiation and mitigation of penalties which may arise from failure to comply with all I-9 verification procedures.
  • Provide due diligence, assessment and advice on mitigating potential Form I-9 liability associated with mergers and acquisitions.
I-9 Compliance and Enforcement