When running a business, it’s vital to ensure that all your employees are authorized to work in the United States. If they aren’t, you can receive harsh penalties for employing them. However, even if they are legal, you could still run into some additional fines if you’ve filled out their I-9 forms incorrectly or if you have broken any other rules related to this issue.
While these infractions are likely accidental, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can still penalize you for them. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on the business consequences of filing incorrect I-9 forms.
How Fines Are Determined
After ICE goes through your documents and determines how many forms had mistakes on them, they define a percentage of inaccuracies by figuring out how many files were correct and how many were wrong. The lower the ratio is, the less harsh your fines will be. However, several other factors affect how much your mistakes will end up costing you, including:
- Whether unauthorized aliens were found
- How severe the offenses were
- If you complied in good faith
- The size of your business
- If you have a history of infractions
That last point is one of the most significant parts considered by ICE when determining the severity of your fines. On some level, they know mistakes happen, but if you have a history of being careless, the penalties you receive will reflect that. We should also note that all fines have gone up since 2020. In most cases, it was only by a few dollars per infraction, but that will undoubtedly add up as you amass more infractions.
Other Consequences That Can Occur
ICE isn’t the only group that can penalize you for inaccuracies in your company’s I-9 forms, though. If completed forms have mistakes that are severe enough, ICE might send your reports to the Department of Justice, start up a Wage and Hour investigation, or begin an OFCCP audit.
In instances where you knowingly hire unauthorized aliens, the Department of Homeland Security might get their Fraud Detection and National Security unit involved. They do this by making unannounced visits to your headquarters to ensure you’re actively complying with the rules and regulations.
How To Avoid These Penalties
In order to avoid the business consequences of filing incorrect I-9 forms in the future, many people suggest doing internal checks once or twice a year and full independent audits every few years. While these are great steps to take, there’s no better way to ensure your documents are up to par than by using an outside source’s I-9 verification services. Here at PSI, we have the tools necessary to help you avoid penalties that can hurt your business.