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A recent blog article by immigration law firm VISANOW illustrates how important I-9 compliance is if you are a recruiter who places contractors and runs your own back-office as I-9 audits under the Obama administration hit small businesses hard.

According to the article, the administration has shifted the focus of immigration enforcement to auditing employers rather than going after the workers themselves as was common in the Bush administration. While the focus of the immigration enforcement is to prosecute employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, it has resulted in costly fines for small businesses who make simple clerical errors in completing I-9s.

Simply missing a date or a signature on an I-9 can cost an employer $110 to $1100 per error! One Colorado employer who had never hired illegal immigrants paid $32,000 in fines for such minor I-9 mistakes. The article reports that United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has conducted audits on 3,200 employers since January 2009, resulting in approximately $50 million in fines.

This warning comes on the heels of the Human Resources Executive Online article FoxHire blogged about last week that reported that Abercrombie & Fitch was fined more than $1 million for its I-9 violations. With these two reports, it is clear that the government means business when it comes to I-9 compliance. So if you are a recruiter running your own back-office for contract placements, now may be the time to audit your own I-9 practices or consider outsourcing the employment responsibilities of placing contractors to a contracting back-office.

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