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IMAGE Frequently Asked Questions


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What is IMAGE?

IMAGE is a voluntary partnership initiative between the federal government and private sector employers. The initiative is designed to foster cooperative relationships and to strengthen overall hiring practices.

ICE has developed this initiative as a new concept for employer self-compliance within the worksite enforcement program, through which employers can achieve a lawful workforce through self-policing of their hiring practices.

Why was the IMAGE program started?

Many people are drawn to the United States in search of jobs. U.S. companies face fines and owners face possible imprisonment if they violate laws related to employment and employment eligibility. IMAGE was developed as an avenue through which ICE could offer assistance to employers seeking to avoid hiring illegal aliens.

ICE recognizes that the highest level of employment integrity can only be achieved through close coordination with industry partners. Furthermore, industry self-policing will allow ICE to focus on other aspects of its homeland security mission.

The IMAGE program also serves to foster improved relations with private sector employers, and to help these employers to better understand their legal responsibilities when hiring.

Is IMAGE an employment eligibility verification system?

No. However, participants in the IMAGE program are required to use E-Verify, a free online employment eligibility verification system operated jointly by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.

The IMAGE Best Employment Practices go beyond electronic verification to help employers who seek to maintain the integrity of their worksites.

What are the benefits of becoming an IMAGE member?

IMAGE places an emphasis on self-policing in a company’s hiring practices. By following the prescribed steps of IMAGE, employers go beyond electronic verification to help maintain the integrity of their worksites.

In addition, IMAGE membership can enhance your corporate image by associating your company with sound hiring practices, and helps to secure the homeland by reducing opportunities to inadvertently hire unauthorized workers.

What does ICE agree to do as part of IMAGE?

IMAGE was designed as a partnership initiative between the government and private sector employers. To that end, ICE is committed to working with IMAGE participants in the following ways:

  • ICE will waive any applicable fines if any technical or substantive violations are discovered on the Forms I-9 reviewed as part of the inspection conducted, as long as there is no evidence of a criminal violation.
  • ICE will not conduct another Form I-9 inspection of the company for a four-year period.
  • ICE will provide information and training before, during and after inspection.

What is E-Verify?

E-Verify is an Web-based system that compares information from an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility. More than 410,000 employers, large and small, across the United States use E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees, with about 1,600 new businesses signing up each week. E-Verify is fast, free and easy to use – and it's the best way employers can ensure a legal workforce. Visit E-Verify at www.dhs.gov/E-Verify for more information.

Why does my business have to perform document checks?

Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires employers to verify that all employees are authorized to work and have established their identities using the Form I-9.

What happens if I correctly complete an I-9 form and perform the E-Verify query and ICE subsequently determines the individual to be unauthorized to work in the U.S.?

If the employee presented the employer with documents that reasonably appeared to be genuine and relate to the employee presenting them, you cannot be charged with a verification violation. This type of circumstance underscores the importance of why ICE is advocating participation in the IMAGE program and E-Verify for all employers.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 07/28/2020