When you hire a new employee there are plenty of tasks that find their way onto your to-do list: discuss benefits, prepare desk space, gather training materials, and provide them with an I-9 Form. While the paperwork may seem daunting, the I-9 form is required by federal law to comply with the Immigration Reform and Control Act. It must be completed for all new hires, or you could face serious penalties.
The I-9 Form, or the Employment Eligibility Verification, is intended to verify the employee’s eligibility to work in the United States, either as a citizen or a foreign national. This form must be completed on the employee’s first day of work, and sent to your nearest Office of Human Resources within 3 days. I-9 Forms should be held by the employer for all current employees, or 3 years after unemployment ends for previously employed workers.
It is up to you, as an employer, to evaluate the I-9 forms of each of your employees and determine if they are authorized to work in the United States. If you are ever unsure, contact an immigration lawyer for assistance to avoid possible mistakes that could lead to an audit.
Failing to Comply Could Lead to Serious Penalties
Should you receive a Notice of Inspection by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, your auditor or agent will need to see all relevant I-9 Forms. If technical or procedural errors are found, employers will be given 10 days to make the necessary corrections, and may receive a monetary fine.
Any employers found to have knowingly hired and continually employed unauthorized workers will face much more serious repercussions. Employers will be required to stop all unlawful activity, and could receive monetary fines of up to $16,000, be criminally prosecuted, and face debarment (prevented from participating in federal contracts and from receiving government benefits).
Once the inspection is complete, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will give the audited party notice.
Notices Can Include:
- Notice of Inspection Results (compliance)
- Notice of Suspect Documents
- Notice of Discrepancies
- Notice of Technical or Procedural Failures
- Warning Notice
- Notice of Intent to Fine (NIF)
If an employer receives a NIF, the employer may negotiate a settlement or request a hearing with the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer. ICE will evaluate each case and determine the fines owed based on whether or not the employer is a first time violator, and the severity of the violation.
The best way to ensure you are complying with all Form I-9 requirements correctly and lawfully is to hire an immigration attorney who can oversee the paperwork for you. If you have been contacted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement with a Notice of Inspection, contact your attorney, today.
To read more about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement notices, click here.
For information about Form I-9 inspections and penalties, contact Guerra Sáenz, PL.