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I-9 compliance important for Florida businesses

As the Obama Administration, the courts and states across the country tangle with immigration issues the federal E-Verify system has received a great deal of ink over the past few months. Miami employment eligibility verification attorneys are aware that use of the E-Verify system generally remains voluntary for businesses in Florida. Governor Scott, however, has made use of E-Verify mandatory for government employers within the state.

The federal government has had the authority to ensure that companies are verifying employment eligibility since 1986 under the I-9 requirements. The issue of I-9 compliance for private businesses is slowly emerging in the national news. Many businesses are unaware that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reportedly issued a memorandum in 2009 directing its agents to target employers who have not properly filled out I-9 forms.

ICE has had the authority to conduct audits of businesses under federal law dating back to 1986. The 2009 memorandum indicates ICE's intention of cracking down on businesses that are not up to date in their I-9 compliance.

Last year, after the reported memorandum was issued, ICE, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, audited more than 2,600 businesses. Sources say the agency is well on its way this year to surpassing last year's number of audits.

ICE says more than 99 percent of employers have errors in their I-9 forms. The agency says the average individual I-9 form has five errors. ICE has levied a number of sanction and heavy fines against employers related to I-9 compliance issues.

Many I-9 errors are correctable. An experienced Florida I-9 compliance attorney can help businesses in correcting their current files and help to ensure ongoing I-9 compliance is maintained. Business wide I-9 compliance policies are often a good idea. Businesses can also benefit from holding training for human resources personnel in I-9 compliance issues.

Source: Tulsa World, "Business Viewpoint: I-9 errors can be costly to businesses," John T. Synowicki 2 Jun 2011

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