Barbed wire at the U.S. border.

What Is an I9 Audit?

  • Jun 10 2020

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was passed by Congress in 1986. IRCA prohibits U.S. employers from hiring anyone who does not have legal authorization to work in the country. To confirm that an employee is legally authorized and eligible to work in the U.S., employers are required to fill out Form I-9. While the form itself has changed over the years, it is still a requirement and it still can cause problems for employers who either fail to comply with submitting I-9s or fail to fill out I-9s correctly. 

Overview of an I9 Audit

There are a wide variety of I-9 errors that an employer may make and may raise red flags for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), triggering an audit. Even seemingly small mistakes such as forgetting to sign a section of the form or failing to submit the form in a timely manner can lead to an audit and cost the employer a substantial amount of money. When you are dealing with ICE, everything matters, details included. ICE has increased the number of I-9 audits conducted over the years. Understanding I-9 errors that can lead to an audit and understanding the audit process itself can help protect business owners from incurring substantial penalties.

Form I-9 is officially titled “Employment Eligibility Verification.” Common errors include an employee leaving out required information. In some instances, an employee may fail to sign a section of the form. Failure to check the box indicating citizenship status is also a common error made by employees completing Form I-9. Employers also commonly make mistakes on these forms. An employer may fail to enter the date of hire for the employee. In other instances, an employer may fail to enter an accepted verification document.

All of these errors can trigger an I-9 audit conducted by ICE. The first step in the audit process is the delivery of the “Notice of Inspection” to the employer. The employer is then given as little as three days to produce Form I-9s for all employees. ICE may also request additional documentation such as payroll records. Under the IRCA, employers must maintain Form I-9s for every employee hired. Failure to produce Form I-9s to ICE can lead to a substantial amount of trouble for the employer.

ICE will review all documents furnished by the employer and look for any discrepancies. Simple technical errors, such as a missing date on the form, may be remedied by the employer within ten days. Should larger discrepancies be found, the fix is not so simple. These bigger discrepancies are referred to as “substantive violations” and are usually things that would make it look like an employee was not actually authorized to work in the U.S. Should a substantive violation or technical violation remain uncorrected within the allotted amount of time, fines can quickly pile up. ICE will likely assess additional fines should it be proven that you knowingly hired unauthorized workers.

Immigration Attorney

Immigration law can be complex and often have severe consequences if violated. Talamantes Immigration Law will provide you with sound immigration counsel. We are dedicated to helping our clients in any way we can. Contact Talamantes Immigration Law Firm today.

Posted in: Immigration Law