Compliance with Form I-9 | DCR Workforce Blog

Compliance with Form I-9

Form I-9, also known as the employment eligibility verification, is one of the crucial verifications required to be conducted before considering an individual for employment. This is an essential requirement to ensure that the person is eligible to legally work in the USA.

So, every employee hired after Nov 6, 1986 must complete and submit the I-9 Form at the time of being hired. The employer is responsible for accurately completing Section 1 of the form at the start of employment if the period of employment is less than 3 days, or within 3 days; unless:

  • The person was continuously in the company’s employ prior to Nov 7, 1986, or providing services under a contract entered into prior to that date.
  • The person provides domestic services on a irregular basis, in a private household
  • The person is an independent contractor. A word of caution: even if the person were to be engaged as an independent contractor, under the Immigration Reform and Control Act – the employer may not retain a person – even as an independent contractor – if they come to know of their lack of work authorization.

The employer has certain responsibilities and duties:

  • The employer has to provide the worker with the necessary assistance to complete the I-9 form. The employer may have to translate the contents to help the employee understand them properly.
  • To complete Section 2, the employer must obtain original documents to establish identity as well as employment eligibility.
  • Section 3 covers updates to and re-verification of employment eligibility, on its expiration date.
  • If the employer has cause to question the legitimacy of any document submitted as proof of eligibility, he/she may ask the employee to submit one document each from the Lists A, B and C provided.

Avoiding Penalties:

I-9 form submission is a requirement, it should not be considered as just another formality or redundant paperwork. Fines for incomplete or error-prone submissions can range from $110 to tens of thousands (should there be repeat errors in the submission.)

  • U.S. law requires an employer to avoid discriminating against individuals on the basis of national origin or citizenship.  Employers may not use I-9 compliance as a part of pre-screening for any employment. They cannot require different documents from some applicants, and must be consistent in conducting the I-9 verification to all prospective employees.
  • Records of I-9 forms along with a photograph must be maintained in the employer’s files for 3 years after the date of hire or one year after the termination of the employee, whichever is later. Should the inspectors find outdated documents with errors, they will be levying fines even when the documents pertain to former employees.
  • The storage of documents must make it possible to produce them for inspection, within 3 days of any official request seeking their production.
  • If an I-9 is misplaced, , it is necessary to complete and submit a new I-9 document as soon as discovery is made, dated as on the day it is completed.
  • When buying into a business, the existing employees’ I-9 records should be transferred to the new owner, who is responsible for verifying the accuracy of dates, signatures, completed content; compliance with the 3 day rule; re-verification of expired terms; valid documentation; and availability of current identification.
  • It may be necessary to complete a new Form I-9 for every non-exempt employee.

A periodic review and audit of the I-9s on file may also save a business from unnecessary penalties, and cannot be considered to be a wasted effort.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.