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Here are strategies to prevent paperwork issues with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Many employers will always have problems with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

It all starts with an inspection and ICE serves thousands of notices of inspection (NOI) every year.

Nationwide, alleged irregularities uncover in NOIs results in millions of dollars in fines and a high number of criminal arrests.

Not only are illegal workers arrested, but so are human resources employees, business owners and managers.

Errors associated with Employment Eligibility Verification forms (Form I-9) can lead to civil penalties for each violation.

If an employer knowingly employing unauthorized workers are even more costly for just first-time violations.

The penalty criteria:

Business size, whether or not there was good employer faith, the violations’ severity, and whether there were previous offenses.

If you get an NOI, you only have 72 hours to respond.

NOIs mean ICE wants to see:

  • Your I-9 forms for both current and recently terminated employees
  • Payroll records
  • List of current employees
  • Information regarding the company’s owners

So perform your due diligence to avoid problems.

I-9 precautions:

1. If you think there’s any possibility of legal issues, chances are you will – see a good immigration attorney.

2. Only use the approved I-9 form. The forms are periodically updated.

3. Make certain that new employees complete Section 1 before they start work. Complete Section 2 and the Certification by the end of the third business day.

4. Make sure you’re not trapped into a discrimination charge by making new employees give you more information than are normally required.

5. Don’t accept expired documents from an employee.

6. Before they expire, re-check any expiring work authorization documents – don’t allow any workers to continue in your employ if any are expired.

7. Don’t re-verify U.S. passports, Permanent Resident Cards or List B Identity documents.

8. Don’t keep I-9 forms in the employees’ files. For current employees, keep I-9 forms in a separate file. Keep a separate file for terminated workers.

9. On a regular basis, be sure to conduct audits on I-9 forms. Get your attorney involved on this. Fix any correctable errors, and initial and date adjacent to the corrections. Use the words, “Per Self Audit.”

As in any business potential issue, prepare by developing a response plan:

Meet with key employees who should be apprised of the significance of such a visit from ICE.

Here’s an example why only people highly skilled in communication should be receptionists:

When visiting your company, an ICE representative will likely engage your receptionist first.

Assuming you sanction your receptionist to accept and receive important documents like an NOI, require the person to immediately notify you and/or your second-in-command and your human resources manager.

However, if you’re reading this article and already have been visited by ICE, you must be careful in dealing with ICE. Your response sets the stage for communication, either effectively defending your company or possible negotiations and a settlement with ICE.

From the Coach’s Corner, more HR tips to avoid legal problems:

How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits — Here are six tips for micro-companies and 13 strategies for larger organizations to avoid EEOC migraines.

4 Mindsets for Leadership in Performance Reviews — Are you nervous at the thought of giving employee-performance reviews? You’re not alone. Your employees aren’t exactly thrilled, either.

Management: 7 Tips for Success if You Must Layoff Employees — Companies typically make two short-sighted errors in a business downturn. They slash the workforce and marketing investments. To the contrary, it’s important to place a maximum value on your human capital and avoid layoffs, and to expand marketing.

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”
-Benjamin Franklin


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.