USCIS Launches I-9 Central Portal to Help Employers Comply

Amid an increasing number of I-9 audits and investigations, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has created the I-9 Central Portal for use by employers seeking to comply with the hiring restrictions imposed by U.S. immigration law. The new I-9 portal was announced in a USCIS news release in mid-May 2011.

Major Companies Targeted in 2010 & 2011

Effects of the increase in I-9 audits initiated and launched by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s largest investigative office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have been covered in the popular media, including the Wall Street Journal. These investigations have become highly newsworthy, as they involve large, well-known companies, such as Chipotle Mexican Grille, Inc. and Harvard Maintenance, Inc. Both of these national companies were forced to terminate many of their employees due to I-9 irregularities.

It was reported that Chipotle terminated 450 workers in the state of Minnesota alone, and that Harvard Maintenance was forced to reduce its Minnesota workforce by 240 workers. The investigation of Chipotle began in 2010 and spread to company locations in other parts of the United States.

Long-time readers of MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin will recall our September 18, 2009 NewsBrief entitled, I-9 Audit Forces Company into Layoffs. This report discussed a similar ICE I-9 audit that led major clothing manufacturer American Apparel, Inc. to terminate 1,500 employees at its Los Angeles, CA manufacturing facility.

Resources for and Number of I-9 Audits Increases

ICE Chief John Morton stated in an interview made public in a January 20, 2011 news release, that ICE was opening an Employment Compliance Inspection Center for the purpose of conducting I-9 audits. This center employs 15 auditors, tasked with helping ICE agents and auditors across the United States with employer I-9 audits. On February 17, 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that ICE stated in an eMail that1,000 additional companies would be investigated in the biggest I-9 audit effort since 2009. The new Employment Compliance Inspection Center is expected to be among the additional resources necessary to conduct these increased I-9 audits.

USCIS Makes I-9 Resources Available Online

Heightened scrutiny of U.S. immigration cases and the resulting employer anxiety appear to be hallmarks of the day. The USCIS has taken the step to create the I-9 Central Portal as a centralized, free resource that provides I-9 information for employers to educate themselves regarding their responsibilities and duties under U.S. immigration law with respect to hiring. MurthyDotCom has additional free resources available in our Government Investigations section.


In the current climate of multiple investigations for noncompliance with employment-related immigration requirements, it is imperative companies to follow the requirements of Form I-9. Murthy Law Firm attorneys are available to assist employers of all sizes who wish to conduct proactive, internal audits to determine their levels of existing I-9 compliance, to train human resources personnel regarding best practices for the completion and retention of I-9 forms, and to represent them in responding to and defending ICE audits and investigations related to I-9 requirements.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.