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A new Form I-9 – a must for ALL Employers

March 21st, 2013

Part of the US response to the recognized immigration and terrorism problems, is to stem the tide of employers hiring illegals – undocumented workers, criminal aliens, whatever they may be called.

Employers [size doesn’t matter] since 1986 have been required by federal law to verify the employable status of every employee hired., and, of course, every new employee (and within three business days of the first work day)! The law applies to all employers — not just those which traditionally hire immigrant workers.

So, what is the mandated way to verify employable status? By using a Form I-9. This form has just been revised and issued and MUST be the form used after May 6, 2013. [If you need it, there is a 50 page Handbook for Employers available at www.uscis.gov [search box I-9]].

They are not filed with the US government, but you had better have them in your employee files [for 3 years from date of hire and 1 year after termination]. The I-9 form lists the acceptable documents (which should be photocopied and retained with the I-9 form in each employee file). The employer needs to verify both identity and eligibility. Some documents (like a U.S. passport) will do both. In other cases, you may need one to verify identity (like state driver’s license) and another for eligibility (like a U.S. birth certificate [original or certified]).

When? This gets tricky – never request the documentation before a job offer is made and accepted or you could face a discrimination claim. Accordingly your stated public policy must be that you hire qualified people with documentation, regardless of whether they are U.S. citizens. While you may not (and should not) inquire when authorization expires, it is acceptable to periodically show evidence of continued eligibility.

It is the employee’s responsibility to provide the evidence [Form I-9 spells this out.] that they are legitimately employable. The document choices must be the employee’s, not the employer’s. If they can’t, then good-bye! And this must be the result for every existing and new employee.

If you’ve overlooked this new requirement, do it NOW.

Compliance failures are significant — record keeping violations alone can run from $125 to $1,250 each. There are other civil and criminal penalties including knowingly employing an unauthorized alien that can range to $12,500 per violation. This is a serious exposure – don’t hurt your business – COMPLY!!

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2013 © Gordon A Carpenter