1. Prepare

I-9 Compliance: Do internal audit (we can help) to make sure your records are accurate and complete. During a raid, it will help the employer quickly step in and prove US work authorization.

Know Your Employee’s Rights
Know Your Employee’s Rights

  • Remain Calm: If ICE shows up to the workplace, individuals are encouraged not to panic or run away. Employees may feel frightened and feel the need to leave, but they should calmly walk toward the exit. If stopped, an individual may ask if they are free to leave. If the officer says no, employees should not try to exit the building. If questioned, employees may tell them they want to remain silent.
  • Remain silent: All individuals have a right to remain silent, and do not have to answer questions by any law enforcement. Therefore, if an employee refuses to answer an officer’s questions, this should not be held against him or her, either in the workplace or by the officer.
  • Protect personal documents: An individual can refuse to show documents to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Individuals also have the right to refuse to show any documentation before speaking an immigration lawyer. If the employee chooses to exercise this right, it should not be held against him or her in the workplace.
  • Employee Solidarity: It is possible that all employees have come to a collective decision to remain silent, regardless of their immigration status and work authorization, so as not to easily reveal who may have questionable immigration status. Per every individual’s right to remain silent, this is acceptable.
  • Additional Rights and Strategies: Our law firm can provide more detailed guidance. Individuals have the right to immediately contact a lawyer and can refuse to sign any and all paperwork until having the opportunity to speak to a lawyer.

2. After Receipt of a Notification for Upcoming I-9 Audit

  • You may receive an Audit Notification which will provide the date and time on which the immigration services intends to visit the employer. However, there is also the possibility of the immigration services appearing at the workplace for an Audit or Raid without giving the employer prior notification.
  • If you do have notice, take advantage of the time before the visit.
  • Engage an immigration law firm for help.
  • Review Forms I-9 for your all your employees—whether US citizens or not. Make sure it is up-to-date and accurate.
  • If not already done, organize the I-9 files. By making the Audit process easier for the immigration officer(s), you may be paving the way to a more pleasant encounter with the officer(s), and therefore a shorter audit process.
  • Review payroll records for any discrepancies. If someone received a paycheck and there is no I-9 file for this individual, notify our office to discuss an appropriate response to the officer(s) in the event a question on this matter arises.
  • Make sure employees know their rights.

3. During Visit from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

I-9 Audit with Prior Notification

  • Be calm and stay professional.
  • Cooperate with the immigration officer(s). Demonstrate your willingness to comply with their instructions, and treat him or her with respect. (This can also help later, especially if you’re facing fines for errors.)
  • Respectfully request that the officer provide you with a formal request and verify that all information is correct. If the officer does not have a warrant, they may only enter your private premise if you provide them with verbal permission to do so.
  • Respectfully make note of the officer’s name or badge number.
  • Provide only necessary and requested documents. Do not volunteer information that is not requested from you.
  • Do not actively obstruct an ongoing investigation by obviously instructing employees to not give information or to run.
  • If the officer(s) intend to take any documents, request that they give you the opportunity to make a copy of the documents they take with them.
  • Make note of the officer’s procedure, in case they take any unlawful actions that should later be reported.

Surprise Raid – In some events The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will not give the employer any notification, but will simply show up at a worksite for an Audit or to question employees.

  • As soon as possible, engage an immigration law firm
  • Follow the same steps as above (in section: I-9 Audit With Notification)

4. After Visit by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

  • Provide your immigration attorney with a summary of what occurred during the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement visit. We may assist you with any of the possible outcomes.
  • If an employee presents the immigration services officer with false documentation, and the officer proves that it is false, you will likely need to terminate this employee to avoid penalties. Please discuss these situations with your immigration law firm.
  • If there was any kind of unethical or abusive behavior during the Audit or Raid, advise your immigration law firm. They may prepare on your behalf a complaint and submit it to agencies responsible for collecting stories about incidents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement abuse.

This document was created with guidance from the Immigrant Legal Resources Center.


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