Regulation of I-9 form requirements fall within the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). Even though IRCA sounds like immigration law, it actually prohibits employers from hiring any individual, including US citizens, for US employment without using Form I-9. That is, every employer who recruits, refers for a fee, or hires an individual for employment in the US must complete Form I-9 for every person they hire.
What is I-9
The I-9 is a form used for employment eligibility verification. The purpose of the I-9 is to help employers verify their employee’s identity and employment authorization. The form is completed by both the employer and the employee. To complete the form, the employee must show specific evidence of their identity and work authorization and the employer must examine and record the information.
As soon as the employer has offered a job and the employee has accepted the offer, Form I-9 can be filled out. Form I-9, Section 1 must be completed and signed no later than the employee’s first day of employment.
Although technically every employer needs an I-9 form for every employee, there is special guidance for employees that fall into special categories. This may include categories of workers such as minors, refugees, or foreign students. Additionally, there are very specific circumstances where Form I-9 is not needed. Examples of such instance would be individuals not physically working in the US or individuals employed for casual domestic work in a private home on a sporadic, irregular or intermittent basis. It is very important to ensure that you absolutely do not need to file a form before deciding not to do so as penalties for violating I-9 form requirements can be severe.
Violations for I-9 form requirements can be either civil or criminal. Criminal violations arise when an employer is engaging in a pattern or practice of hiring, recruiting or referring for a fee unauthorized employees. Civil violations can result from an array of unacceptable behavior including knowingly employing unauthorized workers, document abuse, or simply failing to comply with Form I-9 requirements.
Non-compliance with IRCA can result in forfeiture of company assets, possible imprisonment and monetary fines. Monetary penalties range from $375 to $16,000 per violation. Additionally, substantive violations can produce fines ranging from $110 to $1,100 per violation. Substantive violations include instances such as failing to produce an I-9 form upon request.
Employers must retain original I-9 forms for three years after the hire date or one year after employment ends, whichever is later. If an officer or an employee of a qualifying agency asks to inspect an employer’s forms, the employer must be able to present them to the government officials within three business days of the date forms were requested. This means that employer’s must keep their I-9 forms accessible; however, given the sensitive data involved, employers must also provide adequate safeguards of their employees information.
Hire a Skilled Immigration Attorney
Immigration law is full of complex procedures and regulations. Hiring an experienced immigration attorney can save you from a huge headache by helping to ensure you are in compliance with the law. Contact The Law Office of Raphael M. Scheetz for assistance.