employee vs contractorU.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is an enforcement organization whose purpose is to ensure all U.S. employers comply with U.S. immigration laws.

Unauthorized workers

Part of that mission is the civil and criminal prosecution of employers who hire unauthorized workers.

In cases where ICE determines an employer knowingly hired unauthorized workers, ICE may impose monetary penalties ranging from $375 to $16,000 per violation, with repeat offenders receiving penalties, at the higher end.

However, in addition to financial liability, individual decision makers may suffer criminal prosecution. On its website, ICE extols its recent accomplishments; here are just a few:

  1. More than 713 criminal arrests tied to worksite enforcement investigations;
  2. Of the individuals criminally arrested, 221 were owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees;
  3. 2,496 Notices of Inspection served, which resulted in 385 Final Orders, totaling $10,463,987.61 in administrative fines; and
  4. ICE debarred 212 business and individuals for administrative and criminal violations.

Your company may face financial liability and individual decision makers may face criminal prosecution for violating U.S. immigration laws.

Paperwork violations

Employers who believe they are complying with U.S. immigration laws may find themselves in financial hot water for paperwork violations. All U.S. employers must properly complete I-9 Forms for all employees. Employers who fail to properly complete the I-9 Form may incur fines ranging from $110 to $1,100, per violation. Therefore, a single I-9 Form may result in multiple violations.

Good employer practices

  1. Use only the current version of the 1-9 Form.
  2. Timely completion of the I-9 Form. An employee must complete Section 1 of the I-9 Form prior to the start of work. The employer must complete the employer portions of the I-9 Form within three days of employee’s start of employment.
  3. Do not ask for specific documentation.
  4. Actually, look at the documents used by employees to prove identity and work authorization and make sure they reasonably appear authentic.
  5. Store I-9 Forms separately from employee personnel files.
  6. Establish a system for updating I-9 records.
  7. Conduct internal I-9 Form audits periodically.
  8. Destroy I-9 Forms after the employer’s retention period has expired.

MelderLaw can save your company money by:

  1. Helping you comply with Federal Immigration laws.
  2. Auditing I-9 Forms for paperwork violations.
  3. Creating an ongoing program to mitigate your liability under the Immigration Reform and Control Act.
  4. Helping with issues concerning the retention and destruction of I-9 Forms.
  5. Helping you respond to ICE notifications for inspections.
  6. Being there when you have any other questions concerning employee work authorization and I-9 compliance.