The ICE I-9 audit: If necessary, build your case for an extension (Step 3)

This is the third post in a series that outlines what to do as you race the 3-day clock after getting an I-9 audit notice from U.S Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).

At this point you’ve carefully scoped the work (Step 1), and you’ve held your kickoff meetings (Step 2). Now you’re ready for Step 3, an optional but often critical step:

Your Case for an I-9 Audit Extension

Step 3: If necessary, build & present your case asking for more time

Given all the systems and people involved in an ICE I-9 audit, even in the best of circumstances it is often difficult in just 72 hours to pull together the information requested in a way that ensures quality. If you believe 72 hours is an insufficient amount of time, request an extension.

Any number of extenuating circumstances can jeopardize your ability to do a quality job on your audit response package in the time provided, including availability of key resources, timing that coincides with your busiest time of year or another large deadline-driven event (ex. annual enrollment), maintenance downtime of a key system, etc.

One of Tracker’s customers was served with an ICE I-9 audit notice during the third week of December, when several of their key resources were out on vacation. The company made the case that critical resources were unavailable, and got their deadline extended until after the holidays.

Another one of Tracker’s customers received multiple ICE I-9 audit notices on the same day for different worksites. If you have one of these or other extenuating circumstances, we recommend that you ask ICE for an extension. You want to get it right, which requires time.

Make your request for an extension early in the process, as soon as you have your arguments prepared. This shows that you immediately organized your efforts and sincerely want to do a quality job on your response package. Make sure to outline your reasons when you ask for the extension. Ask for as much time as you think you’ll need to do a quality job, while keeping your request within reason.

Finally, allow your attorney to present your case for an extension. As recommended in a previous post, your attorney should be your single point of contact with ICE. He or she can best represent your rights and is likely familiar with ICE’s I-9 audit process.

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This is the third of five posts outlining a series of specific actions you should take after  ICE hands you an I-9 audit notice. Check back for this upcoming post outlining the next step:

  • The ICE I-9 audit: Look for these I-9 errors (Step 4)

Tracker’s Audit Response Team guides customers through ICE I-9 audits. Employers who use Tracker’s electronic I-9 & E-Verify solution have been rewarded with perfect ICE audit results showing 0 errors.

Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only.

The ICE I-9 audit: Call kickoff meetings (Step 2)

This is the second post in a series that outlines specifically what to do as you race the 72-hour clock after you were handed an I-9 audit notice by a U.S Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) auditor.

Racing the clock w NOI-2

If you followed Step 1 outlined here, then as soon as the ICE auditor left the building, you went straight back to your desk and carefully reviewed the ICE paperwork for all locations being audited. Having done this, you know who you need to involve in your I-9 audit response, and what to ask of them.

You’re now ready for the next step:

Step 2: Call immediate kickoff meetings

Football kickoffIn this step you alert your stakeholders and pull together your audit response team.

Call the attorney who will be your central point of communication with ICE during the I-9 audit. Get him/her a copy of the ICE paperwork. Also contact each person you will need to pull records for you. Schedule one or two meetings to take place immediately:

Meeting #1:

This meeting includes each person who will be pulling records, along with your attorney. Here you will define the roles and responsibilities of each member of your I-9 audit response team, and define deliverables and timelines. Clarify which person will pull each set of records, and make sure there is agreement on the scope and format of the records being pulled. Establish a delivery timeframe for each task. If there are any extenuating circumstances that make fast turnaround difficult (for example, the person who knows the system best is out sick) do everything you can to help expedite the process despite the difficulty. At the same time, take a note of any difficulties as they may help you make a case with ICE for an extension.

Meeting #2:

If you use an electronic I-9 vendor who supports their customers through I-9 audits, you’ll also want to hold a call between your vendor, your counsel, and yourself (HR). In this meeting you want to make sure there is agreement on the scope and format of the records being pulled. Ensure that an audit trail will be supplied with each I-9, showing the changes made to the record over time. Make sure the vendor is also going to supply images of all the employment eligibility documents associated with each record. Discuss the format in which these items will be delivered to avoid any 11th hour surprises. Your attorney is a key stakeholder in this meeting as he or she needs to stand behind what is delivered while representing you with ICE.

Clarify the turnaround time for the vendor deliverables. A good I-9 vendor will have internal processes in place that enable them to immediately make your audit the highest priority. They should also give you a single point of contact for your audit. Make sure you know how to get hold of that person over the next three days. You also want to understand how the I-9 vendor will deliver the records to you. The vendor should provide a secure delivery method – not email – so make sure to get access instructions and login information.

There is another item you will likely need from your I-9 vendor. The Notice of Inspection will typically ask you to supply information about the electronic I-9 system you use, to ensure it meets the requirements for audit trails, electronic signatures and more. (see this example ICE I-9 audit notice for more detail). If your I-9 vendor has experience helping customers through ICE audits, they will have a standard response for this request, and it has already been vetted by ICE.

Also, if the ICE auditor requests it, be prepared to give ICE a demo of your electronic I-9 system to show how it is compliant. Your vendor should be prepared to support you through this. Demonstrating the system’s compliance should not be difficult. A well-designed, compliant system should be easy to demo.

For both of these meetings, the earlier you get the records, the more time you will have to identify issues and potentially take action to mitigate those issues. So do everything you can to help accelerate the delivery timeframe.

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This is the second of five posts outlining a series of specific actions you should take when you receive an I-9 audit notice from ICE. The next post in the series:

Tracker’s Audit Response Team guides customers through ICE I-9 audits. Employers who use Tracker’s electronic I-9 & E-Verify solution have been rewarded with perfect ICE audit results showing 0 errors.

Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only.

You just got an ICE I-9 audit notice: NOW WHAT??

ICE Agent with I-9 Audit Notice of Inspection“Hello, I’m from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement. I have something for you.”

This simple statement instills terror in the hearts of a few unlucky HR executives each day. In an average week, more than 50 HR leaders hear these words from a U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspector who presents them with a Form I-9 Notice of Inspection (NOI).

What do you do when you receive the unwanted NOI?

From the moment you’re handed the Form I-9 audit notice, you have 3 business days to pull together your response package. Typically, the NOI will tell you exactly when you have to present your package of records. Ideally you’ve done some advance planning, and maybe you’ve even taken these steps to prepare for the I-9 audit.

Regardless of how much advance planning you’ve done or not, now it’s time to act.

With no time to waste, the sequence in which you do things will make a difference to your outcome. The larger your organization, the more work an I-9 audit will be, and the more time-pressed you will be. (Note: this post was written with large employers in mind, but it should benefit organizations of all sizes.)

HR Racing against the I-9 audit clock

So you’re racing the clock. Where should you focus your energy? There are five key activities you should focus on in your three days, in specific order. Some take minutes or hours while others take days, but all are critical.

When you get the NOI, the first thing to do is to scope the work, right away:

Step 1: Scope the work

Get familiar with the scope of the records you’ll need to produce. You’ll likely need to rely on different people to pull different types of records, so a careful review of the ICE paperwork will help you understand who you’ll need to involve and what to ask of them. ICE often investigates multiple work locations as part of a single I-9 audit. Carefully review all the paperwork ICE submitted, for all audit locations.

The NOI will typically ask for I-9s for all current employees as well as those terminated in the previous three years, for the work locations being audited. In addition, you’ll need to supply a copy of any documents that were copied as part of the employment eligibility verification process.

Here is an example NOI. As you’ll see the NOI specifies additional records you’ll be required to supply, such as payroll data, tax statements, a list of current and terminated employees at the audit locations, and more.

The goal of this first action is for you to quickly understand the list of people you will need to involve your next step, your kickoff meetings.

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This is the first of five posts outlining a series of specific actions you should take when you receive an I-9 audit notice from ICE. Subscribe or check back for these upcoming posts on this topic:

Tracker’s Audit Response Team guides customers through ICE I-9 audits. Employers who use Tracker’s electronic I-9 & E-Verify solution have been rewarded with perfect ICE audit results showing 0 errors.

Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only.

Example ICE I-9 Audit Notice

Ever wonder what an I-9 audit notice from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) looks like? Here is an example:

Example ICE I-9 Audit Notice Page 1

Example ICE I-9 Audit Notice Page 2

This example is created from a number of real NOIs received by Tracker customers over the past 2 years. (For the record, ICE found the I-9s of these Tracker customers to be in perfect compliance, with 0 errors.)

As you can see the Notice of Inspection usually requires a good amount of supporting documentation.

You’ll also notice that if you use an electronic I-9 solution, ICE requires some specific information about the system. A good vendor should have a standard response package they’ve used successfully in other customer audits, one which has proven to completely satisfy the ICE requirement.  (More detail on this is outlined in our whitepaper: I-9 Eval Guide: Questions You’ll be Glad You Asked.)

A well designed electronic I-9 system will save significant amounts of time during the course of the audit in record extraction, reports, and more.

 

Tracker’s Audit Response Team guides customers through ICE I-9 audits. Employers who use Tracker’s electronic I-9 & E-Verify solution have been rewarded with perfect ICE audit results showing 0 errors.

Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only.

Hiring temporary workers this summer? Beware of these I-9 compliance pitfalls for summer hires.

Beware of I-9 compliance pitfalls for summer hiresIf you work in hospitality, food services or retail, chances are you are hiring temporary employees this summer. According to a recent survey by Snagajob, 74% of employers in these industries expect to hire temporary workers this summer.

When it comes to summer hires, there are I-9 compliance pitfalls you want to take into consideration. A number of common myths about I-9 & E-Verify requirements for temporary workers get employers into trouble. Before you do your summer hiring, it would be wise to make sure you are not operating under any of these myths.

I-9 COMPLIANCE MYTHS FOR SUMMER HIRES

“Since our temporary hires will only be with the company for a short time, I don’t need to be too concerned about I-9 compliance.”

Fact: Your organization has to live with the I-9 form for a minimum of 3 years for every employee it hires. This includes temporary employees. If Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducts an I-9 audit, they can fine you up to $1,100 per form in error, regardless of how long the employee worked for your organization.

“I have 3 days to fill out the I-9 for all my summer hires.”

Fact: While it is true that normally you have a 3-day grace period to complete a Form I-9, there is an exception to this rule that you should keep in mind when hiring temporary workers: If an employee is only hired to work 3 days or less, you must complete the I-9 on their first day of work.

“If the temporary employee has a receipt in lieu of an original document, it will work fine.”

Fact: It is true that normally you can accept a receipt in lieu of a Section 2 document. But here again, there is an exception to this rule that can bite you with temporary employees: If you hire an employee to work 3 days or less, you can only accept original Section 2 documents.

“I can let my managers decide how they want to process the I-9s for workers we re-hire.”

Fact: If you re-hire an employee within 3 years of their original date of hire, you can choose to either complete a new Form I-9 for them, or you can update Section 3 of their original Form I-9. But whichever method you choose, you should use that method consistently for every re-hire at every location. Inconsistencies tend to get scrutinized in an ICE I-9 audit. Be consistent and you’ll avoid the risk of appearing to treat one group differently from another.

“Since these employees are temporary, I don’t have to E-Verify them.”

Fact: If the work location participates in E-Verify, you must E-Verify all new hires at that location, even temporary hires. This is true even if you’ve chosen to use E-Verify voluntarily at that worksite. If your organization is a federal contractor and the temporary hire will work under the contract, or if state or local E-Verify laws mandate use of E-Verify for that location, you must E-Verify all employees you hire to work at that location, even if they work for 3 days or less.

Discover how Tracker’s paperless I-9 solution delivers perfect I-9 compliance for every type of hire. Get flawless I-9s every time, reduce the time your organization spends on I-9 and E-Verify compliance by 85%, and be fully prepared for that I-9 audit.