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ICE Employer Worksite Investigations Projected to Increase in 2021

While hiring may have slowed down or stopped completely this past week for non-essential businesses, US employers need prepare for increased ICE worksite investigations and I-9 audits to begin as early as the end of 2020 and in 2021.

History shows that ICE lead employer worksite investigations and I-9 audits peaked in 2009, the year after the financial crisis of 2008. Current forecasts project that there will be a far worse financial crisis in 2020 due to the economic impact of COVID-19. As history tends to repeat itself, employers need to prepare themselves for possibly the highest number of I-9 related investigations in recent years.

How is COVID-19 affecting I-9 Compliance?

Recent Update from ICE regarding Virtual I-9s during COVID-19:

Recent updates from ICE may cause some confusion for employers, which may lead to non-compliance. DHS announced some flexibility in requirements related to Form I-9 compliance, which would allow virtual inspection of documents in some cases.

This ICE update can be found by following the link below:

This flexibility, however, does not automatically apply to Employers. Employers are required to take specific steps, including adopting the right remote workforce policy. Some employers are either not adopting these policies, or they are not properly documenting the newly adopted remote workforce policies.

What about terminated and furloughed employees?

Employers can still be audited on terminated or furloughed employees. In addition to being able to subpoena I-9s for current employees, the government may also subpoena I-9s for terminated or furloughed employees with a look-back period of three years from the date of I-9 execution.

How to Protect Yourself Individually and Your Company:

Employers should ensure they have up to date Corporate Immigration Compliance Plans, Policies, and Procedures. They should also be keeping up with their annual internal I-9 audits by third party compliance specialists, and they should be making sure their I-9 Administrators are trained at least once a year, per ICE Best Practices standards.

Specific Steps regarding Virtual Document Review:

If Employers are executing new I-9s, or updating work authorization on current I-9s, or making corrections to current I-9s per internal audit, they most likely will need to update their policies to include a virtual I-9 review policy for remote workforce.

What is our training company doing to help Employers during this difficult time?

Corporate Immigration Compliance Institute is temporarily waiving registration fees for COVID-19 related I-9 compliance training, which includes a SAMPLE Remote Workforce Policy.

You can register for this free training here:

Leyla McMullen


The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is general information regarding law and policy that may be applicable to your particular HR issue or legal problem. Information provided in this blog, or any of our other public posts, does not create an attorney-client relationship. For specific advice you can rely upon, please contact your attorney.

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