Powers Immigration Law

Workforce Compliance



I-9 Overview

In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) created requirements that force employers to balance between two competing ideas – scrutinizing identity documents too little or too much. Federal immigration laws prohibit employers from considering foreign appearance, accents, or national origin in their hiring practices. On the other hand, employers are required to ensure that all workers are authorized for employment.

The employee’s identity and work authorization is verified through the completion of an I-9 document on the employee’s date of hire. The employer must review documents provided by the employee, noting the documents reviewed and then maintain the I-9 form through a period of time after the employment ends. There is a list of documents that are acceptable for use with the I-9. It is the employee’s decision which documents will be provided. In fact, an employer may be fined for discrimination if they request certain documents or refuse documents that appear on their face to be genuine.

If an employer fails to comply with I-9 obligations, the employer could face significant fines. Additionally, if an employer knowingly hires undocumented workers, the employer could face criminal charges.


In April 2009, as part of an immigration enforcement effort, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a new worksite enforcement strategy, focused on holding employers accountable for their hiring practices and promoting self compliance. With the launch of this program, ICE initiated 1,461 worksite enforcement investigative cases, which resulted in 443 criminal arrests and 1,644 administrative arrests.


In fiscal year 2010, ICE arrested 196 employers for criminal worksite-related violations. As of September 2011, ICE has initiated 3,015 investigations into employers’ practices of hiring undocumented workers. Additionally, ICE has issued 2,393 notices of inspection and issued 331 final orders totaling $9 million in fines levied on employers.

As is apparent from the statistics above, the consequences of an I-9 procedure that is poorly administered includes cleaning up an overwhelming and expensive paperwork mess, expensive civil penalties, and potential allegations of actual and/or constructive knowledge leading to criminal indictment.

A few examples of employers that have been either fined or charged from 2010 and 2011 include (click the link to be redirected to the ICE website for details):

    • A manager at Grigg Box Company was arrested on criminal charges of knowingly accepting false documentation in the course of hiring undocumented workers.
    • Five managers or supervisors of Mambo Seafood were indicted on various charges related to harboring illegal aliens.


How We Can Help

Prior to becoming an attorney, Ms. Powers was a human resource professional. Her professional experience in human resources provided her with an appreciation of the distinct challenges employers face in balancing productivity, regulatory compliance and workforce fulfillment. In her role as a human resource professional, Ms. Powers conducted numerous internal I-9 audits.

Since becoming an attorney, Ms. Powers has focused her practice on immigration law.  This unique blend of experience allows Ms. Powers to identify errors, possible document fraud or ID theft, and provides her with a unique perspective when recommending best practices that are tailored to each employer.

The following services are offered on a flat fee basis determined by the size of the project:

·         I-9 Sampling Audit.  With a sampling audit, twenty percent of your company’s I-9s will be reviewed to gauge the general condition of the documents and how well your company’s compliance procedure is working. This is often the first step in determining the areas of potential liability or what changes to your compliance policy should be considered. A detailed report of all findings will be provided at the conclusion of the audit.

·         Full I-9 Audit of All Active Employees. I-9s are reviewed for all active employees. A detailed report of all findings and recommendations will be provided at the conclusion of the audit

·         Full I-9 Audit of All Active and Terminated Employees. This is the most comprehensive audit. All  I-9s that your company has a responsibility to maintain are reviewed. This includes I-9s for current and former employees. A detailed report of all findings and recommendations will be provided at the conclusion of the audit.

·         Compliance Procedure. Your compliance procedure will be reviewed. If necessary, a revised procedure will be drafted that is tailored to your business.

·         Training. Individual or team training sessions are offered.

Human resource personnel often feel an external audit will reflect poorly on their work. Because of this, many human resource professionals are reluctant to recommend an independent I-9 audit.  Ms. Powers approaches all audits as a learning opportunity for those responsible for completing and maintaining I-9 documents. During audits, Ms. Powers may uncover opportunities to create or adjust best practices and will be able to inform management of potential liabilities and ways to minimize those liabilities.

If you have concerns about whether your business is fully I-9 compliant, contact us and we would be happy to discuss our full range of I-9 services and how those services can be tailored to fit your company’s specific needs.

We may be reached at (704) 556-1156.


The pages of this website provide general information about immigration processes and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions specific to your case, to schedule a consultation, please call (704) 556-1156 for the Charlotte office, (828) 394-1196 for the Hickory office, or click here.



Powers Immigration Law ("the Law Office") maintains this website to provide general information about the firm and the services it provides to its clients.  The information contained on this website is not intended to be legal advice and it should not be relied on as a substitute for seeking legal counsel.   The Law Office does not seek to enter into an attorney-client relationship with any reader of its on-line content.  An attorney-client relationship with the firm can only be formed based on personal consultation with an attorney, followed by a determination that the Law Office is willing and able to accept such representation.


Powers Immigration Law ♦ tanya.powers@tmpowerslaw.com

520 8th Street NE ♦ Hickory, NC 28601 ♦ (828) 394-1196

5200 Park Road, Suite 221 ♦ Charlotte, NC 28209  ♦ (704) 556-1156