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What Are Your Rights and Responsibilities in an Immigration Audit?


Minyang Jiang

What Are Your Rights and Responsibilities in an Immigration Audit?

By Jaime Lizotte, HR Solutions Manager at ComplyRight, Inc.

Under the new administration, immigration investigations are expected to increase significantly. President Trump has already announced plans to hire 10,000 additional immigration investigators. But what does that mean to you?

You may think the odds of being investigated for immigration violations are low, especially if you are a smaller business that follows all the rules. However, just one anonymous complaint by a disgruntled employee — or even a customer — is all it takes to subject your company to an intrusive investigation. Even if you’re never targeted for an official investigation, you may be selected for a random audit of your I-9 records.

Because most immigration audits and investigations start with an unannounced “surprise” visit by an investigator, you need to know what the investigator can and cannot do, and what you should and shouldn’t disclose. In many cases, you can avoid penalties just by exercising your rights and understanding your obligations.

Who conducts investigations and audits?

The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audits and investigates businesses for compliance with employment verification and eligibility requirements. The agency’s primary objective is to reduce illegal immigration practices in employment.

Any employer of any size can become the target of an ICE audit or investigation. Should an ICE investigator show up at your door, you should first listen and gather information.

It is your right to ask the investigator to explain the purpose of the visit, and request as much detail as possible about the scope of the intended investigation. You can ask how your company was selected, what issues are being reviewed and what the inquiry will involve. You should also record the investigator’s full name, title, address and telephone number — as well as his or her supervisor’s name and contact information.

At this point, only listen to what the investigator says. Do not offer any information about your company or respond to the alleged violations.