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.