Last week, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) notified 1,000 American companies that their hiring records would be subject to review. These “I9 audits” have been undertaken to reduce the hiring of unauthorized workers, and the government is getting serious about both the number of companies audited and the consequences for failing an audit.
These 1,000 new companies bring the total of American firms being audited this year to 2,300, which is already more than the 2,196 audited in all of 2010 and the 1,444 audited in 2009. And lest you think the audits are just for show, 196 employers (almost 9 percent) were arrested last year as a result of the audits.
The fines aren’t inconsequential, either, especially for smaller businesses:
- Hiring an unauthorized worker can result in a fine of up to $3,200 per worker for the first offense, $6,500 for the second offense and $16,000 for the third offense.
- Filing an incomplete I9 can result in a fine of up to $1,100 per form—even if the worker in question is authorized to work in the U.S.
- Knowingly committing or abetting document fraud can result in a fine of up to $3,200 per document for the first offense—and up to $6,500 per document for subsequent offenses.
The message from the ICE is clear: unauthorized workers aren’t worth it. (Also: don’t commit fraud; they really hit you for that one.) Make sure you’ve got an authorized, legal workforce.
Fortunately, the ICE is also making it easier to ensure that your workforce is legal and authorized. This month, they introduced enhancements to their E-Verify system that make it easier to use and increase the scope of its database of documents.
Of course, Reliance has used E-Verify since the beginning of this year. So you can be confident that when you hire through Reliance, your workers will be authorized and legal to work in the U.S. It’s just one way we protect the profitability and integrity of our clients. To learn more about how Reliance uses E-Verify, contact us today.
What are your thoughts on the I9 audits? Let us know in the comments!