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Spotting I-9 Document Fraud – Must Employers Become Document Experts?

During the keynote speech at the Second Annual Worksite Immigration Compliance Symposium, ICE Director John Morton mentioned that in the midst of the rising use of fraudulent documents and identify theft, he encouraged employers to enroll in E-Verify to ensure that the documents used were authentic. Despite Director Morton’s recommendation though, the sentiment of many organizations is that their HR workforce must exercise some form of “document expertise” during the I-9 verification process that leaves many HR personnel with questions and concerns. In this regard, I asked three (prominent) immigration attorneys who practice I-9 compliance the following question and received different perspectives: “When corporate clients ask if they need to be ‘document experts’ when it comes to the I-9 verification process, how do you counsel them?”

Notwithstanding their varying advice above, they all agree that while employers don’t have to be document “experts,” there is an expectation that employers should respond to potential document fraud like a reasonable person would. One way to accomplish this is by implementing a document inspection strategy that makes sense for your organization; whether it’s following instructions from the M-274, using a formal training program, or consistently abiding by a written (and practical) procedure.

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