Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has served more than 500 Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to U.S. companies over the past week. According to the agency, allegations that employers are hiring unauthorized workers and paying employees unfair wages or otherwise exploiting workers set off this latest round of inspection notices.

With this move, ICE furthers its stated objective of executing all measures necessary to ensure that lawful employment of all workers is maintained in the workplace, a central objective of the Obama Administration. No doubt this will be followed by additional rounds of mass NOIs. Consequently, this is a reminder to employers of the critical need to ensure I-9 form compliance. Among other activities, employers should take precautions to ensure that they are diligently conducting the employment eligibility verification review process at the time of hire, maintaining documentation, and ensuring proper review on an ongoing basis.

As part of an employer’s diligence, focus should be given to completing internal audits immediately to identify and correct any errors. Upon receipt of a NOI, an employer has only three (3) business days to provide I-9 Forms to ICE (an extension is available under limited circumstances). Therefore, the NOI should not be the primary trigger for a company’s I-9 concerns. A proactive review would provide an opportunity to confirm accurate record keeping, as well as allow an employer to target areas that need procedural development and internal training. The Global Immigration Group can provide assistance in navigating these processes.

An employer can address the retention of I-9s in a number of ways, but the approach selected should be uniform, consistent and, most importantly, in compliance with government rules and regulations. Developing an action plan should be paramount on a company’s to-do list. Take the opportunity to reflect on and assess what your next step should be. We will continue to monitor this and related developments.