The calls from clients who received visits from
Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents
started to trickle in last Thursday afternoon. Although nothing has been announced,
we have reason to believe that ICE is conducting a new round of audits.
While numbers have not been confirmed, we estimate
that at least 500 employers nationwide will be receiving Notices of Inspection
(NOIs). We understand that the NOIs were issued based on robust "tips and leads"
and many of the inspections could lead to criminal indictments.
NOIs will include requests for hiring, payroll and
other records to determine compliance with employment eligibility verification
laws. Employers will be expected to produce original I-9s within three days
from service of the NOI. These audits were driven by ICE headquarters and it's
unlikely that requests for extensions of time will be granted for the I-9 production;
however, payroll records, copies of immigration filings, copies of Social
Security Administration communications requesting corrections, information on
independent contractors, and related information generally can be submitted
later than the three day time period. Our February 2011 and June 2011 GT Alerts discuss
what to do if you receive a NOI from ICE.
If your company was not selected by ICE, consider
yourself lucky; be smart, be proactive and consider the following:
This administration continues to make it clear that
the days when immigration compliance could be ignored and considered the "cost
of doing business" are long gone. Administrative audits, which can lead to
criminal charges against the company and its officers and directors continue to
be the tool of choice of ICE, and employers can expect these surges several
times a year.
As ICE ramps up its auditor's capabilities we can
expect the inspections to become more sophisticated. With the USCIS
transformation team likely moving towards integration of the Form I-9 and
E-Verify, the increased use of electronic I-9s, additional monitoring of the
E-Verify system and a better trained and focused core of ICE agents, employers
absolutely must consider the importance of proactive compliance planning and
training. A large of part of this process should include practices to detect
identity theft and fraud issues. Although enforcement mechanisms may change,
one thing is for certain: the focus on audits and other worksite enforcement
actions will continue
This GT Alert was written by Dawn M. Lurie, Mahsa Aliaskari and Kate Kalmykov.
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