Employers: Are Your I-9 Forms Up-To-Date?

This summer, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security stepped up its enforcement of laws prohibiting the employment of undocumented workers across the country. To discourage illegal immigrants on their way into the country, the agency has been holding employers accountable for using illegal labor. The Department of Homeland Security has a long-term strategy to stop current employment of undocumented aliens by targeting employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants.

As part of this effort, Homeland Security notified hundreds of businesses of impending audits of their workers this summer—sending out as many in July 2009 as were sent out in all of 2008. Should your business face a Notice of Inspection or other inquiries from immigration agencies, you will need to show a proper I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form for each employee. The forms require that employers verify their belief that an employee is authorized to work in the United States by reviewing each employee’s documentation, under penalty of perjury. Although Illinois is not a border-state, it has the fifth-largest immigrant population in the U.S., with an estimated 520,000 undocumented aliens in the state in 2005 according to the Department of Homeland Security. All employers should be aware of a Department of Homeland Security audit and must take pains to check each employee’s documentation carefully to avoid major fines and penalties.

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