On May 14, 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibilities in rules related to Form I-9 compliance, initially granted on March 20. The ICE notice extends the ability for employers to conduct Form I-9 completions virtually/remotely, for an additional 30 days, or until June 18. The guidance provides an alternative – for a time – to “in-person” I-9 document review in light of precautions necessitated by COVID-19. With the rules relaxed, Section 2 verification or Section 3 reverification can be virtually completed via an online meeting (Skype, Zoom, FaceTime etc.), email, or fax, provided employers retain copies of the documents, and complete the Form I-9 within three business days of an employee starting work. In the original announcement, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stated that the virtual/remote process was not available to employers where employees were physically present at a work location. DHS also requires employers availing themselves of this discretion to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s presence, once normal operations resume, making the flexibility not so flexible and very time consuming in practice. The process of having to virtually check documentation, and then recheck in person within a tight time frame, has been unworkable for many employers.
Continue Reading ICE Announces Further Extension of Flexibility in Form I-9 Rules

Late Friday afternoon, April 3, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security posted the following questions and answers in response to stakeholders queries on Form I-9 obligations in the midst of COVID-19.  We applaud the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for taking the lead on coordinating these responses and anticipate they will continue to be responsive to employer queries. The Q&A reiterates the original Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guidance, including confirming a hard deadline on timing- three days to complete the I-9 initially via a virtual/remote method and then three days to update with an in-person inspection once the business resumes normal operations. The Q&A also provides clarification on how to complete a Form I-9 with an expired driver’s license (sneak peek: use the actual expired date and write COVID-19 on the Form). Curiously the Q&A references electronic systems that don’t offer an additional information box field but suggests attaching a note to the I-9. The Q&A also confirms our suggestion, the person who views the documents  in -person should enter their name and date in the Additional Information Box.
Continue Reading New COVID-19 Q&As Related to Form I-9 and E-Verify

Virtual Coffee on Virtual I-9s: Immigration Compliance in the Wake of COVID-19

Monday, March 30, 2020  at 11am EDT

Hosted by Seyfarth Shaw and the US Chamber of Commerce

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently issued I-9 and E-Verify guidance in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel, which includes a former head of

This blogpost has been updated on July 23, 2019 with information regarding the number of audit notices issued.

Seyfarth Synopsis: The temperature may be heating up in the nation’s capital, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is keeping things cool.  ICE Acting Director, Matthew Albence, confirmed that almost 3330¹ Notices of Inspection (NOI) have already been served, across the 50 states and Puerto Rico, initiating Form I-9 audits for companies of all shapes and sizes. It is expected that over 5000 NOIs will be issued before this latest ICE blitz is over. With the current enforcement climate, there may even be a resurgence of pre-dawn enforcement actions – otherwise known as “raids” – to surprise both workers and their employers. Companies should expect penalties to climb sky high, with recent reports of multi-million dollar fines, especially for non-compliant electronic I-9 systems — that’s right, something that has nothing to do with unlawful workers.  It is expected that over 5000 NOIs will be issued during this round of audits

What is an NOI?

An NOI initiates a government administrative inspection of a company’s Forms I-9 to determine whether they are complying with existing law.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) leadership considers civil administrative audits to be just one of many tools that ICE can use to reduce the demand for unauthorized unemployment and to protect opportunities for U.S. workers.  The current enforcement strategy includes an expanded use of civil penalties, employer audits, and debarment, as well as the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law.


Continue Reading ICE Chills the Summer with Thousands of Audit Notices Issued to Businesses Nationwide

On July 24, 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a press release confirming that its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division had completed the second phase of a nationwide operation from July 16-20. HSI served 2,738 I-9 Notices of Inspection (NOIs[1]) to US businesses around the country after serving 2450 during its first phase earlier this year. In sum, HSI has now issued almost 5200 NOIs since the beginning of October 2017. Not only this, but HSI also has made 675 criminal and 984 administrative worksite-related arrests. These numbers clearly indicate that ICE takes worksite enforcement very seriously and companies should prioritize a commitment to compliance. Fines for knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized workers start at $559 per employee and can be as high as $22,363 for repeated offenses. Paperwork violations range from $224 to $2236. Companies may also face additional fines, penalties and forfeitures, and government contractors may face debarment from federal contracts.

In ICE’s press release, HSI reminded employers about its “three-pronged approach to worksite enforcement: compliance, form I-9 inspections, civil fines and referrals for debarment; enforcement, through the criminal arrest of employers and administrative arrest of unauthorized workers; and outreach, through the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, or IMAGE program, to instill a culture of compliance and accountability.”

These events have been expected and actually follow prior comments by HSI officials that we previously reported, confirming that 2018 will be a year of increased immigration enforcement.


Continue Reading Baby It’s Cold Outside: ICE I-9 Audits Increase Over 100 Percent

This blog was first published as a Seyfarth Shaw Management Alert on July 17, 2018

By Dawn M. Lurie and Alexander Madrak

Seyfarth Synopsis: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) increases worksite enforcement by more than 50%.  What should employers understand to prevent fines and minimize reputational risk?

Since the start of fiscal year 2018, ICE has increased worksite enforcement actions by over 50%.  Compared with fiscal year 2017, administrative arrests have increased nearly 400% while worksite investigations have risen from 1,716 to 3,510—with the last quarter of the fiscal year remaining for these numbers to increase.[1]  ICE appears to be making good on the remarks made by leadership to increase worksite enforcement “four to five times.”


Continue Reading ICE I-9 Audits on the Rise: Act Today to Prevent Issues Tomorrow

Seyfarth Synopsis: Following the wave of Notices of Inspection (NOI) at 77 Northern California businesses last month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents are continuing to spread the cheer with NOIs targeting businesses in Southern California this week.  Serving NOIs throughout the greater Los Angeles area, the inspections appear industry agnostic.  The NOIs delivered by HSI agents and auditors notify businesses that they must produce their employees’ Forms I-9, Employment Eligibility Verifications within 72 hours.  The notices often include a list requesting additional company information and documents as well.

Local HSI offices are keeping ICE’s Deputy Director Thomas Homan’s promise of increasing its activities not just across the nation but more specifically targeting sanctuary cities and states like California.  It is important to note that businesses receiving the NOIs are not all within the service, manufacturing, agriculture, or traditional “infrastructure” sectors. Employers across industries should take a look at their Form I-9s and overall immigration compliance – the time to figure things out is not during the 72 hours after a NOI is issued.


Continue Reading California Continues to Shine Under ICE’s Spotlight

By Dawn M. Lurie and Alexander Madrak

True to its word, last week Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents issued Notices of Inspection (NOIs) at seventy-seven Northern California businesses. ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents spread out across northern California, serving NOIs in Sacramento, San Francisco, and San Jose at the end of January. No


By: Dawn M. Lurie, Alexander Madrak and Greg Morano*

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued automatic extensions of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries from Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, and most recently, El Salvador. Employers should be prepared to recognize these automatically extended EADs and correctly handle the resulting influx of Form I-9 updates.

What’s the Latest on TPS?

While the government is back in business, the path to immigration reform seems as tumultuous as ever. The chances to reverse the termination of TPS are slim, and the impact is slowly beginning to sink in for TPS beneficiaries and employers alike. An Immigration Forum Fact Sheet on TPS notes: “Recent data estimate that TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti contribute a combined $4.5 billion in pre-tax wages or salary income annually to our nation’s gross domestic product.”

What Do Employers Need to Know?


Continue Reading Auto Extension Influx: Automatic Extension of El Salvador TPS EADs

  1. By: Mahsa Aliaskari

Update: At midnight the federal government shut down.  We will keep employers updated as details of immigration related closings and the negotiations in Congress become available.

Seyfarth Synopsis: As we wait to hear the fate of yet another temporary extension to continue funding the government after midnight on Saturday January 20th – employers should know how a shutdown may impact processing of immigration petitions and immigration programs.


Continue Reading Déjà vu – Government Shutdown and Impacts on Immigration