With the introduction of its National Employment Compliance Inspection Center in 2011, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been able to increase the number and scope of its I-9 audits, along with the number and amount of fines. Accordingly, ICE is on track this year to audit 3,000 firms of all sizes for compliance with the I-9 employment eligibility verification process.

In 2010, I-9 audit fines reached $7 million, up from just $700,000 two years earlier. The total for 2011 has not been released yet, but speculation pegs it at more than $10 million.

Given that an individual fine for a small infraction can reach $1,100, a firm's fines can add up quickly if its records are sloppy, inaccurate, or worse, faked.

The secret to the success of the new inspection center is that it houses some 15 forensic I-9 auditors, who are able to check large numbers of records emanating from firms of all sizes. Before the advent of the center, field inspectors were extremely challenged to audit large firms, so mostly small to medium-sized firms were under the gun.

Employers and human resources personnel, give yourself an added edge in ensuring compliance with the I-9 verification process. Get a copy of Personnel Concepts' I-9 Compliance Kit today.