Dinsmore's Immigration Practice Group realizes that it is more important than ever for employers to comply with all immigration laws, especially worksite compliance. With increased worksite enforcement actions, we help to ensure your organization is fully compliant with each regulation and federal law. Recent enforcement actions have resulted in hefty fines and, in some cases, criminal charges against employers. As an antidote to the government's stepped up enforcement efforts, we provide the services described below as well as a targeted frequently asked questions concerning worksite compliance.
We offer training sessions on I-9 (employment verification eligibility) compliance ranging from a one-hour sessions to half-day programs covering a range of I-9 and E-Verify topics. We provide take-home materials for employees which serve as a handbook for handling recurring I-9 issues. Training topics include: properly completing the I-9, spotting document fraud, handling reverification, minimizing the risk of penalties for I-9 violations, dealing with social security number "mismatches" and responding to tentative nonconfirmations in the E-Verify process.
I-9 Compliance Assessments
At our clients' request, we create specifically tailored I-9 compliance assessment reports. We review randomly selected I-9s, have discussions with the HR professionals responsible completing I-9 forms and review all written employer policies and procedures regarding I-9 compliance. We then provide the employer with an I-9 "report card," and identify areas where the employer is in full compliance. We also identify the areas where the employer's program falls short of the governing I-9 laws and could expose the employer to I-9 penalties, sanctions and other liabilities.
We assist employers in reviewing the state of their I-9s. First, we provide an overview to the personnel who will complete the audit, providing them with materials and tools to assist them in spotting I-9 problems. Second, we provide advice on an as-needed basis during the self-audit. Third, at the conclusion of the self-audit, we review a sampling of the I-9s and any specific I-9s that the employer designates for review to ensure that the documents meet the governing legal standards.
Performing and Handling an I-9 Audit
We will visit the employer's site where I-9s are retained and conduct a full audit on some or all of the employer's I-9s, identifying those documents that require additional steps to comply with I-9 laws and highlighting other issues that may expose the employer to I-9 penalties and sanctions. If an employer is selected for an I-9 audit, we will represent the employer in preparing for the audit and in we will engage the U.S. government officials.
I-9 Inspection and Raid Defense
We assist employers in the event of a government inspection or raid, communicating and negotiating with the government on the employer's behalf and representing the employer, if necessary, before U.S. federal agencies and courts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is E-Verify?
E-Verify (formerly known as the “Basic Pilot/Employment Eligibility Verification Program”) is an Internet-based database operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA) that allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administer the E-Verify program for DHS.
What Steps should an Employer Take to Register for E-Verify?
To participate in E-Verify, an employer must register with USCIS and sign a Memorandum of Understanding. Employers may obtain information about this process at www.uscis.gov. USCIS does not charge any registration or program fees. Employers may wish to seek the advice of counsel for assistance before and during the enrollment process.
How Does E-Verify Work?
Once an employer registers with the E-Verify program and signs a Memorandum of Understanding with USCIS, the employer is authorized to electronically verify the names and employment eligibility of newly hired employees. An employer with multiple work sites may designate which job sites to enroll in the E-Verify system; an employer is not obligated to enroll every site. However, at each enrolled site, the employer must perform E-Verify checks for all new hires at that site and may not use the system selectively.
If the new hire is work authorized, the employer will receive electronic confirmation of the worker's employment eligibility. If E-Verify "confirms" that the employee is work-authorized, the employer is entitled to a presumption that it has not knowingly hired an unauthorized worker, an offense that carries civil and/or criminal penalties.
If the employer receives an E-Verify "tentative nonconfirmation," often because the social security number provided does not match the person's name in SSA’s database, the employer must provide written notice to the employee and initiate a referral to the SSA so that the employee may contact the SSA to resolve the basis for the tentative nonconfirmation. From the time the employer initiates a referral for the employee to resolve the nonconfirmation with the SSA, the employee has eight federal government working days to resolve the discrepancy.
If the E-Verify system indicates a final nonconfirmation (a "no match") and the employer intends to continue to employ that worker, the employer must notify DHS or else the employer will be subject to an administrative fine. The fine ranges from $500 to $1,000 for each failure to notify. If the employer continues to employ the worker after a final nonconfirmation, there is a rebuttable presumption that the employer is knowingly employing an unauthorized worker.
Finally, as part of the MOU, an employer who participates in E-Verify is obligated to permit the SSA and/or DHS to make "periodic visits" to the employer’s worksite(s) to review E-Verify related documents, including I-9 forms, and to require the employer to "make employment and E-Verify related records available."
What is E-Verify's Status Today?
DHS continues to actively promote E-Verify and solicit additional employers to register. Approximately 151,000 employers have registered as of October 2009, including voluntary users, Federal contractors, and those obligated to participate by state law, though not all registrants are active users.