I-9 Compliance in a New World: It’s Not Just Paperwork
Question for employers: How does your company handle its I-9s? Have you even thought about it? Unfortunately, most employers tend to underthink this hugely important human resources component, which affects all its employees, not just foreign nationals. ICE has announced it will increase its worksite audits by “four or five times,” and all employers, irrespective of size, location, or industry, are subject. Indeed, ICE boasts having already doubled worksite enforcement investigations. Couple that with a recent increase in fines – which may no longer constitute “the cost of doing business” – it is time to take a look at your I-9s and devise a plan to ensure current and future compliance.
Question for employees: How careful are you when filling out your I-9? Did you know a false claim to U.S. citizenship is a “nonwaivable” offense that will permanently prevent you from receiving any future immigration benefit and could result in your removal from the United States? In this new world, we have seen an increase in USCIS either asking an applicant for, or conducting its own investigation to obtain, an I-9 from current or even past employment. If your I-9 reveals a claim to U.S. citizenship, even if checked by mistake, this would have a fatal impact on an adjustment or naturalization application.
What it boils down to is that an I-9 isn’t just paperwork. It is an official government form with real meaning and real consequences if not completed and maintained correctly. Employers, if you receive an unexpected visit from ICE with a Notice of Inspection, do not alter or correct your I-9s and do not ask employees for any documentation. Contact your immigration attorney immediately before you take action.
Joy Alegria Haynes is a principal with Haynes Novick Immigration in Washington, DC, focusing his practice on a broad spectrum of family and employment based nonimmigrant and immigrant visas.