In the last decades, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has increased the number of I-9 audits; rising from almost none, to 3 in 2004, to 500 in 2008 and 3,004 in 2012.

Employers need to take notice. Fines for violations of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) can add up quickly. For willful violations, IRCA penalties range from: $375-$3,200 for each unauthorized employee for a first offense and up to $4,300-$16,000 per worker for a third offense. The penalty, per paperwork or technical violation, is $110 to $1,100.

Employers are Accountable
Virtual hiring and telecommuting is increasing. One frequent error employers make is failing to have someone physically present on their behalf while the new employee holds the I-9 in his or her hands and, subsequently, having the employer representative fill out Section 2. If the employer isn’t within travel distance, you can use a notary (private or at banks); some use local law firms; but know this does not relieve the employer of accountability.

Targeted Employers
I-9 audits used to be random, but now they are more often, and the result of disgruntled former employees complaining to ICE. All employers truly are at risk.