Since the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced its program to “create a culture of compliance among employers”, there has been a marked increase of I-9 inspections in the last seven months. In the 4-day period between July 16 to July 20, ICE initiated 2,739 inspections, with 32 arrested. In the entirety of FY 2017, there was 1,716 worksite investigations, including 1,360 I-9 audits. Form I-9 was created by USCIS to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. This is a mandatory form that all U.S. employers must complete for each individual they hire, including citizens and noncitizens. In October 2017, the then-Acting ICE Director announced that they would seek to quadruple to quintuple the number of worksite inspections annually.

How does the worksite investigations work?

To initial an I-9 audit, ICE will issue a Notice of Inspection (NOI) to an employer. The employer subsequently has three days to produce I-9 eligibility forms for all employees, after which ICE conducts a compliance inspection.

Employers who are found to violate I-9 rules are subject to civil and criminal penalties. The civil fines range from $224 to $22,363 per violation depending on the employer’s violation history. Employees who are found to be working in the U.S. illegally will be placed into ICE detention then eventually deported. Since working to end H-4 spousal work permits, creating systems for people to report abuse of the H-1B system, and making it harder to obtain a work permit at all, the Trump administration have lived up to its promise of Buy American, Hire American. For a list of options to legally work in the U.S., please click here.

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