For both employers and immigrant workers, compliance with federal rules on work authorization has become increasingly important. In 2009, Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE), which is now part of the Homeland Security department, began conducting audits of employers.
The goal may have initially been to prevent deportation raids. In practice, however, the effect of the audits can be to drive some undocumented workers toward employers who do not follow the law.
The key form involved in worker eligibility compliance is I-9. This form is the means by which employers are supposed to ensure that their employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S.
That may sound fairly simple. But difficulties can arise when immigrants don’t have the necessary documents to show they are authorized to work in this country.
What happens if a federal audit reveals that an employer accepted false documents, or failed to follow the law in some other way? In such cases, there are serious potential consequences for both employers and employees.
For employees, the risks are obvious: the threat of deportation. Yet employers also have reason to be concerned, because they face significant financial penalties for hiring immigrants who lack proper work authorization.
The I-9 process is therefore an important one for organizations of all types. If the I-9 form is not filled out, filed and administered according to the law, the result can be serious financial liability for the organization.
In short, both employers and employees have a lot at stake in I-9 audits.
Source: “Preparing I-9 audits: Commonly asked I-9 questions,” HR and Employment Law News, 9-24-12
Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Minnesota work authorization page.
Additional source: “Immigration Audits Drive Illegal Workers Underground,” Wall Street Journal, 8-15-11