Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, every employer in the United States must verify employees’ identity, work authorization, and employment eligibility. As such, every employer has to ensure the proper completion of the I-9 Form. Both the employer and employee have to sign the I-9 Form correctly. It is one of the ways used by the US government to curb the influx of undocumented immigrants.
One important thing to note is that the I-9 Form has 22 pages of instructions. However, the I-9 Form itself is only two pages long. The employee presents the employer with employment eligibility and identity documents, which the employer verifies.
The employer retains the original I-9 Forms for three years from the date the employee got hired or one year after the last day of employment. The employer should be ready to produce the forms when needed by authorized government officers for inspection.
Acceptable Documents for Verification of the I-9 Forms
For identification, one has to provide one photo identification and at least one other identification document.
• Photo Identification – must show your name, date of birth, and picture. You can use any of the documents:
• State identification (ID) card
• US passport or passport card
• Certificate of Naturalization
• Foreign passport
• Driving license
• US military card (front and back)
• Certificate of Citizenship
• Employment Authorization Document
• Military dependent’s ID card (front and back)
• Permanent Resident Card
• Other Identity Document – one can use any of the following documents:
• Employment record – one can use a pay stub or payment statement or use W-2 from last year.
• Address verification – any bill showing your name and address, registration for a private mailbox or PO Box, or a lease or rental agreement.
• Social security number
• Birth certificate
What happens to employers who do not comply?
Failing to comply with the I-9 completion and retention rules can attract hefty penalties. An employer who knowingly hires an unauthorized employee can pay fines between $573 to $20,130 per employee, depending on the nature of the violation. Failing to produce the forms for inspection by authorized government officials can attract fines between $230 to $2,292.
If an employer commits a technical violation, they will be notified of the breach and given ten business days to correct it. Some of the technical violations may include:
• The employee fails to provide the date employment began
• Failing to indicate that an employee has not reached the age of 18
• Not providing the date of rehiring an employee
• Failing to provide a date in the employer section within three business days of the beginning of employment
As an employer, you have a lot of responsibilities to the government. One of the obligations is to correctly complete, retain, and produce the I-9 Form when the government officials conduct an inspection. Always make sure that you have read the instructions and understood them. Additionally, you need to verify the original documents and not just photocopies.