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The Price of I-9 Noncompliance

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on June 03, 2014

The government continues its mission to hold employers accountable for I-9 noncompliance. As we recently reported, I-9 investigations are at an all-time high, with more than 3,000 audits taking place in 2012 compared to only 250 in 2007. According to the Association for Corporate Counsel, between fiscal years 2009 to 2012, the total amount of fines grew to nearly $13 million from $1 million and the number of company managers arrested increased to 238.

If that isn’t enough to convince employers to step up their I-9 compliance procedures, perhaps the following individual fines and assessments will prove that the price of I-9 noncompliance is incredibly high:

  • A $275,000 penalty was assessed against Macy’s in June 2013 for discrimination in the I-9 completion process;
  • A $400,000 fine was assessed against McDonald’s for knowingly accepting false documents;
  • A $2 million penalty was assessed against ABC Professional Tree Services, Inc. in July 2012 for failure to comply with employment eligibility verification requirements, among other violations; and
  • A $34 million was assessed against Infosys Limited for a various immigration-related violations, including a $5 million penalty for systematic failure to maintain Forms I-9.

While these are just some of the more notable fines and penalties assessed against employers for significant I-9 violations, even technical errors and minor violations can result in fines of hundreds or thousands of dollars, not to mention the negative publicity and lost productivity that results from an I-9 inspection or penalty. In some cases, prison time has even been imposed on employers who knowingly hired or harbored undocumented workers.

What Should Businesses Do to Ensure I-9 Compliance?

All employers – large and small – should examine their current I-9 forms to confirm that they are up-to-date, look at their current processes and procedures, and consider implementing new processes and procedures with respect to I-9 verifications. Specifically, to comply with I-9 requirements, employers must:

  • Allow the employee to choose which documents to present for verification.
  • Refrain from requesting more documents than necessary.
  • Physically examine each original document the employee presents to determine if it reasonably appears to be genuine and relates to the person presenting it. The person who examines the documents must be the same person who signs Section 2 of the Form I-9. The examiner of the documents and the employee must both be physically present during the examination of the employee’s documents.
  • Record the document title shown on the Lists of Acceptable Documents, issuing authority, document number, and expiration date (if any) from the original document(s) the employee presents.
  • Provide the employee’s first day of employment under “Certification.”
  • Provide the name and title of the person completing Section 2 in the Signature of Employer or Authorized Representative field. Sign and date the attestation on the date Section 2 is completed.
  • Record the employer’s business name and address.
  • Return the employee’s documentation.
  • Refrain from using pre-populated information for Section 1 if using electronic software for I-9 completion, storage, and compliance.

Contact a Knowledgeable I-9 Attorney

The Chicago business immigration lawyers at the Shapiro Law Group focus on helping employers and nonresident employees with all of their immigration issues. As such, we provide advice and guidance to employers on compliance with Form I-9 requirements and other employment immigration issues. If you are an employer in need of immigration assistance, do not hesitate to contact us at (847)564-0712 to speak with an Illinois employment immigration attorney.