With a new President and administration comes fresh focus on immigration and the hiring of 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents who will be cracking down on violators. This means companies might see an increase in ICE audits and heavier scrutiny of Form I-9 paperwork.

What does this mean for you?

Employers could face fines ranging from $216 to $2,156 for each paperwork violation, whether that employee is a U.S. Citizen or an alien. In addition to civil penalties, ICE can also pursue criminal charges if, for example, an employer knowingly hires at least 10 unauthorized individuals within one year, is seen to be harboring or encouraging illegal immigrants or has impeded or impaired the IRS or Social Security Administration function. These offenses could be punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Where the slope gets more slippery

Even if you think your I-9 forms are in order, mistakes are often found. Now is the time to take a closer look. If you find errors, they need to be addressed proactively and corrected in a way that demonstrates transparency versus an attempted cover-up.

Hiring independent contractors can be tricky; even if the IRS sees them as independent for tax purposes, ICE may view them as employees and would require a completed I-9.

What can you do?

Start by watching our recent I-9 webinar recording, where you’ll find answers to your questions, including the ones you haven’t thought to ask. You’ll find additional information available for download here. Most important, stay on top of your I-9 paperwork and be sure you’re in full compliance. If you have further questions, let us know.
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