Federal law requires that employers maintain accurate I-9 forms on all current employees, so that their identity and eligibility to work can be verified. An I-9 audit occurs when federal Immigration officials select a business for the verification process, reviewing the company’s records to ensure compliance.
The I-9 audit process
Getting audited does not mean the business has done something wrong or is even suspected of doing something wrong. I-9 audits can be initiated for a variety of reasons, including random selection. The process begins when the company is given a notice of inspection, which must be issued at least three days prior to the beginning of the audit. This gives the company time to produce the required documentation.
The audit can take place at the workplace itself or the company may need to send the documents away for review. I-9 forms will need to be provided for all current employees and for all employees terminated within the previous three years. If officials find any technical or procedural discrepancies, the company is given at least 10 days to correct them.
Upon completion of the audit, the company is notified of the results. If there were no issues, the company is given a letter advising that they are in compliance with federal Immigration law. If substantive issues were found, the company can receive anything from an advisement of the issues which need to be corrected, to a notice that the company is to be fined. In the worst case, Immigration law permits the government to apply either civil or criminal penalties if it finds the company has knowingly hired or retained unauthorized employees.