As indicated during the election season, the Trump administration has brought a greater focus on issues involving immigration and the employment of undocumented workers in the United States. For employers, this means greater effort must be put into compliance with federal regulations involving the legal work authorization of their workers. The centerpiece of compliance is having a complete and accurate I-9 form for all employees. Any employer attorney in Tampa will tell you, the consequences of being found out of compliance are serious.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement department (ICE) recently fined an employer $605,250 for not having signed verification on Section 2 of the I-9 forms for approximately 800 current and past employees. It wasn’t proven if any of these employees were not eligible to work in the U.S. Beyond monetary penalties, employers could be disbarred from government contracts for non-compliance.
I-9 Compliance Basics
It’s more important than ever to make sure that your company is completely I-9 compliant. Here are a few basics that you need to know in regards to the I-9 form:
- A valid I-9 form must be on file for all employees hired on or after Nov. 6, 1986. Excluded from this list are independent contractors and those who do casual domestic work sporadically inside a personal home. It’s important to note that it is illegal to knowingly employ anyone who is unauthorized to work in the United States.
- As of January 22, 2017, employers must use the new version of the Form I-9.
- When an employee leaves your company, you are required to keep their I-9 on file for one year after their termination date or three years after the start of their employment, whichever is the later date.
- If you have employees with temporary work authorization, you must re-verify their right to work in section 3 by or before the date the document expires.
Tips for I-9 Compliance
- Create an I-9 compliance plan. This plan should be led by an assigned compliance officer and should include methods for dealing with questionable documentation and procedures for managing documentation. A employer defense attorney in Tampa can guide you through the process.
- Do internal audits. Internal audits should be done periodically to ensure all forms are accurate and to catch and correct errors before an ICE investigation.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.