Employer Accountability: The Basics of I-9 Compliance

The process of hiring a new employee always comes with its fair share of work—or paperwork, to be more specific. Among the documents you’ll need to keep for every new hire, Form I-9 is one of the most important. Employers who fail to comply with I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification may be given civil fines or even criminal penalties. With that in mind, make sure you understand the basics of I-9 compliance going forward.

Purpose of the Form

Form I-9 is used to confirm that your employees are legally allowed to work in the United States. It verifies the identity and employment authorization of your new hires. All US employers are required to properly complete and maintain Form I-9 for each and every one of their employees, including both citizens and noncitizens.

How to Use the Form

Employers and employees must complete Form I-9 together. You’ll notice that on the form itself, your employee must attest to his or her employment authorization. Your job as an employer is to examine that person’s documents and verify two things: their identity and their employment authorization. If you’re not sure how to tell if these documents are genuine, you can ask your immigration lawyer for help.

When to Use the Form

Once you offer a job to a candidate and they accept the position, you can start the I-9 process. Your new employee has to fill out Section 1 of Form I-9 and sign it no later than the first paid day of work. They must provide you with the right identifying documents within 3 business days of their first date of employment.

Section 2 is for you, the employer. You have to complete and sign that section within 3 business days of your new employee’s first paid day of work. You’ll then have to look over their documents to make sure everything is legal and valid.

How Long to Keep the Form

Once the Form I-9 is complete, you will have to keep it on record as long as that particular person is in your employment. You can keep paper copies or electronic records. Even after that person leaves, you’ll have to keep the form until either 3 years have passed since the hire date, or one year after their employment was terminated—whichever is later. Keep your documentation in a safe and easy-to-access place, because if government officials request a copy of your I-9, you must be able to produce it within 3 business days.

Your immigration lawyer should be able to assist you with any aspect of I-9 compliance. At the Sanchez-Roig Law Firm, P.A., we work side-by-side with our clients on a variety of legal matters. We can help you comply with the I-9 and other relevant immigration laws, respond to “mismatch” letters from the Social Security Administration, and understand the government’s “E-Verify” program. Call us to gain a trusted adviser for all your employment immigration concerns.