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Don’t Let ICE Hurt Your Business

All employers are required to have a Form I-9 on every employee to prove the employee’s citizenship or eligibility to work in the United States.

Recently, we have heard of audits being done regarding Forms I-9. These audits are performed by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. The ICE agents show up unannounced and are looking to see if you have properly filled out Forms I-9 on your employees. They don’t leave until you have either produced the forms or admitted your non-compliance. You should have a Form I-9 for everyone in your employ, including the business owners if they are receiving a payroll check.

It is important to follow the directions on this form for both the employee and the employer. Make sure the boxes are all filled out and the employee and employer have signed the form. It is required to review certain documents pertaining to the employee’s eligibility for employment in the US. Copies of those documents may be kept but if you keep copies for one employee, you must keep copies for all employees. If you do have employees whose US employment eligibility expires after a certain time you need to have the employee fill out a new form after their eligibility expires showing proof they are eligible for employment once again.

It is also recommended to keep the Forms I-9 separate from the employee’s personnel file and at the business location. This is because if the ICE agents request to look at the documents, you only give them the Forms I-9, not the entire personnel file for each employee. The agents also expect you to be able to produce the forms within a matter of minutes. Fines for failing to comply with Form I-9 requirements begin at $110 for each form and can be as much as $16,000.

To obtain a copy of Form I-9, go to, click on the “Forms” tab at the top of the page, locate the Employment Verification (Form I-9) form under the “Most Searched Forms” on the right hand side of the page and then click on the “Download Form I-9” at the top of the page.