ICE IMAGE Program Compliance
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has recently encouraged more companies and entrepreneurs to participate in its IMAGE program in order to eliminate illegal workers and crack down on fake credentials.
IMAGE, ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, is an ICE program intended to be beneficial to both ICE and to companies. Essentially, in exchange for opening its books up for ICE to examine, companies will be rewarded with reduced fines and an enhanced image. It is a voluntary compliance program which will help curtail the employment of illegal workers.
How can an attorney help in this process?
While not all businesses may want to invite government agencies into their workplace, IMAGE may be a way for a company to self-report its issues that it has discovered in exchange for little to no punishment and a certification that they are compliant.
Partnering with ICE can lead to fewer future I-9 audits, which in turn leads to less drops in productivity; if ICE finds an unauthorized employee during a regular 1-9 audit, productivity, especially for smaller companies where each employee is proportionally more important than in a larger company, may experience a sudden drop while the company scrambles to hire and train replacements. Additionally, partnering with ICE via the IMAGE program can allow a company to grow and promote itself via its “ICE certified” status.
Applying for IMAGE certainly seems to be a good option today, especially with harsher fines and ever increasing 1-9 audits for companies.
An attorney is vital in assisting employer’s company management on IMAGE program compliance. We recommend a procedure to fulfill requirements, and advise on how errors can be corrected.