Form I-9 Compliance: Here’s How to Be Prepared

Employers must stay on top of worksite immigration compliance to avoid serious consequences for their companies, as well as their workers. A Form I-9 must be completed by employers and employees for anyone hired to work in the U.S. These forms verify the identities of workers and ensure they are authorized for employment in the U.S.

Continued I-9 Audits on the Horizon

Under the Trump administration, there has been a significant uptick in worksite investigations; a trend that is expected to continue throughout 2019. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reports that in a two-phased operation occurring between the 29th of January and 30th of March and from the 16th of July to the 20th of July in 2018, ICE served audit notices to 5,278 businesses across the U.S. ICE can audit employers’ records at any time to evaluate their compliance. Violations could result in criminal or civil penalties, including fines.

Ensure Accuracy and Thoroughness of I-9 Forms

Accuracy is essential for I-9 forms as ICE audits evaluate their correctness. New hires, or a preparer or translator on their behalf, complete the first section of Form I-9; providing their names, addresses, and birthdates, and indicating their citizenship or residency status. Employers should make certain all the information is provided in this section, including the maiden names of any married workers, and that employees have signed and dated the document. The second section of I-9 forms is completed by employers and should include workers’ employment authorization forms, information about the company, and employees’ hire or start-of-employment dates.

Maintain Valid Documentation

To ensure their compliance with worksite immigration policies, employers must maintain workers’ I-9 forms. Upon getting hired, employees must provide their employers with documentation establishing their identity and authorization to work. They may provide one document from List A of the lists of acceptable documents or one selection from List B and another from List C.

When conducting an audit, ICE will ask to see the I-9 forms. It may be helpful for employers to store all their worksite immigration records together, instead of in workers’ individual personnel files, so they are easily accessible. They should also remove records as they are no longer needed. Employers need only keep the records of former workers for one year after their separation dates or three years from their hire dates.