Story by Staff Reports found in Bixby

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has begun notifying 1,000 businesses nationwide it wants to review their I-9 forms and other documents to make sure they are hiring only people authorized to work in the United States. The Form I-9 is used by employers to verify an employee’s identity and legal status.

The government is focusing on companies vital to national security and other government and economic functions, but other businesses may be subject to inspection at any time.

“Employers must take the ICE investigations very seriously,” said Jerrod Shouse, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, Oklahoma’s leading small-business association.

Fines for I-9 violations range from $110 to $1,100 for one single, minor, or technical violation. Incorrect I-9 forms can be used as evidence of knowingly hiring an illegal alien that can result in a fine of up to $3,200 per violation.

Here’s how to prepare for an ICE investigation:

  • Make sure I-9 forms are completed correctly and accurately for all new hires.  There is no small business exception for the Form I-9.  Ensure the employee completes section one of the I-9 on the first day of employment. Accept only original documents, not photocopies, and don’t require additional documents from foreign employees.
  • Keep I-9 forms separate from other HR files. A separate file should be kept for terminated employees.
  • Conduct an in-house audit of I-9 forms and correct mistakes. Do not…

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