The Immigration Reform and Control Act requires that all U.S. employers verify the identity and eligibility of all workers, whether they are American citizens or not, by completing the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. An employer must retain these forms for all employees either for three years after the date of hire or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later.
At any time, the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, and/or the Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practice of the Department of Justice may request all I-9’s on file for any given U.S. employer. During review, if errors are found in the I-9 documentation, or forms are missing, or if it is discovered that an employer “knowingly” continued to employ an unauthorized worker, the employer may be subject to serious penalties.
In recent years, the Department of Homeland Security has increasingly targeted the workplace as a way to keep an eye on foreign nationals. The civil fines for paperwork violations can be hefty, with a single Form I-9 error costing as much as $1,100 per employee. The number of criminal prosecutions of employers found to be in violation of I-9 employment eligibility verification has also risen steadily over the past few years. With stricter enforcement efforts, it is important that you consult an immigration attorney who can provide your business with I-9 compliance assistance.
Our attorneys can protect you and your employees in the following ways:
- Develop and maintain an I-9 compliance plan for your business
- Perform an internal audit of all I-9 forms to ensure that your business has the ability to promptly comply with an audit from the governmental agencies listed above
- Correct any errors found on your employees’ I-9 paperwork
- Train your staff on I-9 procedures and verification
- Prepare your I-9 documentation for audits from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and/or the Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practice of the Department of Justice
- Assist with negotiation and settlement of penalties which may arise from failure to comply with all I-9 verification procedures