Legal Updates & Alerts

ICE Form I-9 Audit Initiative: Are Employers Prepared?; H-1B Numbers Remain Available

July 2, 2009
ICE Form I-9 Audit Initiative: Are Employers Prepared?

On July 1, 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") issued a news release announcing that it is launching "a bold, new [Form I-9] audit initiative" and has issued 652 Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to employers nationwide. The NOIs alert employers that ICE will be performing Form I-9 audits to determine employers' compliance with the requirements for verifying employment eligibility.

The new audit initiative is part of the Obama Administration's previously announced strategy of focusing on employer accountability for hiring practices. ICE announced that the 652 businesses that were sent NOIs on July 1 were chosen for audit "as a result of leads and information obtained through other investigative means."

H-1B Numbers Remain Available

Employers please note that new H-1B visa numbers are still available for USCIS Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, which runs from October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010. In the last two years, new H-1B visa numbers were immediately exhausted at the beginning of April for upcoming fiscal years due to high demand.

Approximately 20,000 new H-1B visa numbers remain available for FY2010. On June 26, 2009, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") estimated that 44,800 of the 65,000 H-1B visa quota numbers have been allocated.

The use of new H-1B visa numbers appears to be progressing slowly at this time. Nonetheless, employers who have candidates for new H-1B visas from the FY2010 quota should file H-1B petitions with USCIS now to maximize the likelihood of receiving an H-1B visa from the quota this year. It is unknown what the demand for H-1B visas will be in FY2011.