The New Smart I-9 form will be effective January 21, but the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will still conduct audits on the old I-9s. Over the past few years, these audits have increased from 250 in 2007 to more than 3,000 in 2012. The total cost of the 2012 fines totaled $13 million.
The ICE slaps fines for I-9 violations ranging from $110-$1,100, depending on the degree of the offense and if it’s the first, second or third offense. Read here for a more detailed outline of how fines are issued and I-9 compliance is regulated. Also criminal violations can be up to six months in prison and up to $3,000 for each unauthorized alien, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Below are five companies that have been recently audited and fined by the ICE for form I-9 transgressions.
1. Buffalo Transportation, Inc (BTI)
The ICE audited the small travel company of 139 employees and found six technical or procedural errors. They also found “138 substantive I-9 violations for either failing to prepare or present Forms I-9 for employees or failing to prepare I-9s on a timely basis.” The cost? $600 per violation fine for past employees and $500 per violation fine for current employees. Although the company appealed the decision, the 2nd Circuit upheld it.
2. Employer Solutions Staffing Group (ESSG)
Here’s a cautionary tale of properly signing I-9s for all employees, including those who work remotely. ESSG, a national staffing company, was fined $227,000 for this very reason. According to a press release, they had an on-site agent attained the new hire’s documents and then faxed them to headquarters for the Section 2 signature. This misstep was found for 243 employees; that’s $935 per person.
3. Golden Employment Group, Inc.
Failing to present forms, improperly completing forms, not filing the forms on time (sometimes months later), this temporary staffing company faced all of these violations to a tune of a $210,000 fine earlier this year. The federal judge said that the company’s use of an E-Verify system did not excuse the misconduct.
4. Hartmann Studios
In 2015, an events planning company was charged with a fine of $605,250 for over 800 form I-9 violations. Section 2 was incomplete without the employer’s signature and there were even more incompletions and negligence charges. This is a costly reminder that all employers must sign Section 2 within three business days of a new hire’s start date. To learn more about properly completing the I-9 form, read here.
5. M&D Masonry
The audit on the Georgia construction company started with a secretly taped conversation of the employer talking about hiring illegals. But the investigation found other violations, like not having complete forms in Section 1 and 2 and not preparing or presenting the forms for dozens of employees. The original assessment was almost $332,000, but the final penalty was $228,000.
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