by Christine D. Mehfoud
Back to Basics—Top 10 Must-Haves
for Immigration Compliance
any employers likely have immigration compliance on their radar screen as 2013 gets underway. The Obama administration's continued focus on enforcing the nation's immigration laws
by imposing stiff penalties on employers increases the
likelihood that you will face an immigration-related
inspection in 2013. Will your I-9 forms and immigration compliance practices hold up under scrutiny?
With the recent increase in immigration enforcement, significant penalties, and the potential for bad
press, employers are well-advised to create an immigration compliance program or give an existing
program a facelift. What better way to roll up your
sleeves and get started than to focus on the Top 10
Must-Haves for Immigration Compliance:
1. Form I-9 Audit
To Immigration Customs Enforcement and the Department of Justice, the procedure by which the Form
I-9 is completed and audited is just as important as
the information provided on the form. Therefore, all
employers should conduct a Form I-9 audit annually.
Be careful here—we highly recommend hiring outside immigration counsel with expertise in this area;
the risk of incorrectly conducting an audit is great because the Form I-9 is one of the most misunderstood
federal government forms.
2. Form I-9 Training
All employers should conduct annual training to ensure that the employees completing new I-9s and reverifying them understand all the nuances involved
with accurately completing them. Responding to an
inspection by explaining that you were unaware of the
Form I-9 requirements will not be viewed favorably.
3. Immigration Compliance Training
In addition to training for employees responsible
for the I-9, employers should conduct annual immigration compliance training on the policies and procedures implemented or updated by the employer
throughout the year. Employers should train all hiring managers and supervisors regarding their respective roles in immigration compliance and ensure that
all managers understand the nuances of constructive
knowledge and to whom they should report information that indicates an employee is not authorized to
work in the United States. Human resources personnel
should receive annual training regarding how to respond to such reports to ensure not only that the company avoids discriminatory conduct, but also that it
appropriately investigates any information that might
be considered constructive knowledge of the hiring or
continued employment of an unauthorized worker.
4. Form I-9 Retention and Storage
Employers should have a written document retention policy for I-9s and ensure that it is being followed.
They also should ensure that the forms
are stored appropriately (i.e., separate
from personnel folders and separated by
current and former