Notice of Inspection
Those are three words an employer never wants to hear.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division has issued more than 10,000 Notices of Inspection in the last four years alone. Companies that receive an NOI will undergo an extensive review of their I-9 forms, policies and procedures and, at the end of the day, could receive significant financial fines due to errors in I-9 completion and retention.
Through their attempts to hire a legal workforce, while at the same time weeding out illegal employees from their current personnel, employers continue to remain caught in legally questionable situations.
One of the best solutions to combat the formidable employment verification process is through the use of E-Verify, a free, web-based program that allows employers to further verify their employees’ employment eligibility once hired. It is important to note that E-Verify does not replace Form I-9 compliance; the I-9, whether a hard copy or electronic version, must still be completed. However, the added benefit of E-Verify usage is that this government program compares the data from the employee’s completed Form I-9 with that of the Social Security Administration as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This government initiated program expands the compliance initiative aimed at establishing a wholly legal workforce.
While numerous benefits exist to utilizing E-Verify, such as an improved level of Form I-9 compliance and extra security in knowing that the employee’s I-9 information matches that in the government’s database, it is important to note that employer implementation of E-Verify does carry with it additional concerns. Recently, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented data-mining strategies to track E-Verify users who are potentially violating immigration laws. When certain trends are discovered through data-mining, USCIS shares its findings with other government agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), for investigatory purposes.
Current data-mining trends include:
- Verifying existing employees
- Failing to verify employees within three days of hire
- Failing to print TNC notices
- Intermittent use of E-Verify
- Employer requests specific documents from Lawful Permanent Residents
Consequently, employers must be prudent in their compliance endeavors when utilizing E-Verify, as enrollment alone does not safeguard companies from future investigations and liability.