How to Survive an Immigration Audit

With all of the political pressure from politicians and beaurocracies, Immigration is aggressively cracking down on the laws that prevent employers from knowingly hiring employees who are not legal citizens or aliens of the United States. Immigration is conducting audits all over the country to discover the unlawful hiring of illegal aliens and placing increasingly harsher punishments upon employers who do not pass the Immigration audits.

If you feel that you might be subject to an Immigration audit, it is imperative that you become proactive now. Raids on businesses all across the United States are conducted every day, and you might be next. Making sure that all of your employees are in order, and that you have no skeletons for Immigration to find, is the first step toward surviving an Immigration audit.

#1 Perform Your Own I-9 Audit.

Rather than waiting for Immigration to knock on your door, get ready now to make sure everything is in order. Compare your payroll records with all of your I-9 forms and make sure that one exists for all of your employees. All of the forms should be filled out completely and correctly, and it wouldn’t hurt to call in all of your employees individually to go over the paperwork and correct any mistakes. Performing your own audit will ensure that there are no surprises when and if Immigration does an audit.

#2. Centralize Your I-9 Records.

When paperwork becomes confusing and scattered, mistakes are invariably made. Rather than risking a mistake on an I-9, have two or three employees whose primary job is to fill out the I-9 forms. Train them in each step of the I-9 process, and let them handle all of your new employees. Allowing supervisors who are unfamiliar with the process to complete I-9 forms might result in mistakes slipping through the cracks, giving Immigration the ammunition they need to penalize you and your business.

#3 Keep Meticulous Files

Your I-9 forms should be kept in a single file where they can be accessed easily whenever you need them. Do not keep your I-9 files in your Employee Personnel files because then all of that will be disclosed to immigration, which compromises your employees’ privacy. You can also have two copies of I-9 forms; one for the I-9 file, and one for each individual employee’s file.
#4 Require Original Documentation. When hiring a new employee, make sure that you are given original copies of documentation, such as green cards, social security cards and driver licenses. Photocopies can too easily be “doctored” and failing to see originals will put your credibility in jeopardy.

#5. Make Copies.

Once you have obtained original documentation, produce photocopies of each for your protection. Although not required by law, this will show a good faith attempt to keep everything legal, and even if the documents prove to be fraudulent, you cannot be at fault because you were shown proper documentation. This will make your job – as well as that of Immigration – easier.
#6. Write a Policy. Protect yourself by writing (or having an attorney write) a policy for termination of employment should fraudulent documents be provided as a basis for hire. This way, you have the right to terminate any employee who falsifies his or her immigration status, and you won’t be caught up in a legal mess. Having this policy will also impress Immigration should they arrive for an audit.

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