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If you are a contract recruiter running your own back-office, now may be the time to conduct an I-9 audit … before the government does it for you.

In an article warning of the federal government’s newest enforcement targets, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) detailed the government’s focus on I-9 violations. According to the article, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arm of the Department of Homeland Security has drastically increased its number of audits and has hired “forensic auditors” trained in accounting to detect I-9 paperwork errors.

Employers of all sizes are being targeted, and attorney Mary E. Pivic of Keller and Heckman LLP attorneys in Washington, D.C., warns in the article that criminal enforcement, including seizing employer’s personal property and felony charges of conspiracy and harboring, is common in this newest crackdown. She recommends the following actions to help protect yourself:

  • Make sure you have a policy to follow state and federal immigration laws.
  • Train and certify anyone at your firm who will be dealing with contractor I-9s.
  • Conduct an annual I-9 audit.
  • Fix any problems you find – The ICE does not consider asking employees to complete new I-9s to be discriminatory.
  • Be prepared for an audit.
  • Use E-Verify, the federal government’s online system that helps ensure that employees are authorized to work by matching information provided by the employer with data stored about that employee by the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security. Using this system will show you went the extra mile to ensure your contractors were authorized to work.

Or you can outsource the employment responsibilities to a back-office service provider, such as FoxHire. The back-office service provider will become the legal W-2 employer for the contractor, which means the provider, not you, will be responsible for collecting and maintaining I-9s, and they are the ones the feds will come to should they decide to audit I-9s.

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