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.
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
In 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:
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.
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.