Every employer in the state of California is required to confirm a worker’s identity and employment eligibility to work in the U.S. before employing them. The fact is, employers should not be hiring workers who have not obtained the proper authorization to work in the U.S., although many do as these individuals need a source of income to not only provide for themselves, but even their families. Now, in order for an employer to be in compliance with the current immigration laws, they must have their workers fill out Form I-9 and keep it on file for at least three years after they hired them or one year after the worker’s last day of work. The Form I-9 is a way to confirm that an individual is legally permitted to work in the U.S.

While audits are a common practice both the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) engage in, they seem to be conducting them more frequently after President Donald Trump took office. In fact, ICE and the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) recently completed a two-phase audit where they served thousands of notice of inspection’s (NOI) to businesses all around the county. The first phase ran from January 29, 2018, to March 30, 2018, which resulted in HSI serving 2,540 NOI’s and arresting 61 individuals. The second phase, which ran from July 16, 2018, to July 20, 2018, resulted in 2,738 NOI’s being served and 32 arrests made.

With ICE and HSI revving up their efforts to catch employers who may not be in compliance with immigration laws, it is important that you understand the Form I-9 audit process in case your business is the next target.


What Does the Form I-9 Inspection Process Look Like?


  1. When ICE and HSI decide they want to audit a business, they will issue a notice of inspection (NOI). The NOI “informs business owners that ICE is going to audit their hiring records to determine whether they are complying with existing law” [Source: ICE]. Employers are then given at least three business days to produce the Form I-9. The agency may also request that the employer in which they are auditing provide supporting documentation which might include:


  • Copy of the payroll
  • A list of current employees
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Business Licenses


  1. After ICE agents or auditors inspect the Forms I-9 for compliance, they will acknowledge in writing the results of the inspection. They may either issue a letter that states the business is found to be in compliance or a different notice identifying any technical or procedural violations. If certain violations are found, an employer may be subject to prosecution and/or having to pay a fine. The monetary penalties that are assessed when an employer knowingly hired and continued to employ individuals who weren’t legally permitted to work range from $375 to $16,000 per violation.


To gain a better understanding of what penalties and/or actions ICE might take given they find your business to be in violation of current law, visit ICE’s website where this information is outlined for you.


  1. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the violation(s), an employer will be given ten business days to make the necessary corrections. Now, if the violations are more serious, it is time to contact your CA immigration attorney.


Anytime ICE gets involved with your business, it is always in your best interest to contact an Orange County, CA immigration lawyer who is prepared and ready to provide you with the assistance you might need. The fact is, if an ICE agent finds that you aren’t complying with Form I-9 requirements, you could be forced to stop hiring and even face criminal and/or civil charges. And the last thing any employer wants is to have an issue come between them and their business which will directly affect their profits and ability to provide for their employees and family.

Now, if you recently received notification that your business in Orange County, CA is being audited by ICE and HSI and haven’t yet contacted a CA immigration lawyer, now is the time to do so. USAttorneys.com is available to help get you connected with a legal professional in your area who is well versed in this particular field of law and is willing and able to assist you with your matter.