The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires all employers to verify employment authorization for all newly hired employees, whether U.S. citizens or aliens. Fines for failing to verify work authorization status or properly complete the requisite form (Form I-9) may range from several hundred to several thousand dollars per violation. The total amount of fines assessed can quickly add up to thousands of dollars for large companies. Despite collection of significant fines, many employers have not yet given this requirement a high priority.

Inasmuch as the Immigration and Naturalization Service has expressed an intent to increase audit investigations of employers' Form I-9 procedures, this article should be useful to bring this issue to employer's attention. We suggest that many employers may wish to consider conducting an internal audit of their employment verification systems and procedures.

An internal audit of Form I-9 records could reveal correctable errors or common mistakes that could be easily corrected by an employer which if first discovered by the Immigration and Naturalization Service could lead to costly fines or penalties. An internal audit is also strong evidence of a good faith effort to comply with the law and thus may help minimize potential liability.

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