Avoid Fines and Become I-9 Compliant

by Blake Forrester March 2, 2011

It is as important as ever employers comply with the law. Unfortunately, where many employers go wrong is that they do not maintain current on immigration laws. Employers are required by law to verify the identification and authorization to work for every single employee. I-9 forms are used to confirm compliance with the law. Failure to comply with the rules and guidelines of the I-9 can result in hefty fines, loss of government contracts and a negative image of the business.

The one page form is what employees complete in order to verify their identity and prove their eligibility to work in the United States. The form has three sections; the first section includes basic demographic information as well as asks for the certification that the employee is in fact a citizen, whether they are a permanent resident, or already have the authorization to work under a different status category. The second section is to be completed by the employer. The employer must verify the documents that were presented by the employee in order to prove their residency, citizenship and right to work in the states. The third section is also to be completed by the employers because they must update the I-9 form if the worker does not have authorization to work in United States.

Prospective employees are required to supply proof of their authorization to work and identity. There is a list of acceptable documents that are outlined in the form I-9 instructions. Documents such as passports and permanent residency cards are both acceptable to prove identity. Other documents such as a current driver’s license serve only the purpose of proving identity but a social security card can certify both identity and the authorization to work. It is against the law for employers to require certain documents from the list. In some cases an employee may have the authorization to work but are not able to furnish any of the documents on the list. In this case, an immigration lawyer may need to be consulted in order to provide a legal memorandum. The memo can be issued by the employer and document the employee’s right to work; this process protects the employer from liability.

In order to be in I-9 compliance, the form and documentation need to be supplied on the employee’s first day of work. The employee is required to complete the first section of the form and must supply all supporting documentation within the first three days of their hire date. If documents are not provided within that time frame, the employer is required to remove the employee from the payroll. As of October 2004, I-9s can be completed and stored on a computer so employers can now enjoy the ease of electronically distributing and collecting the form. Employers also have the requirement of keeping all I-9 Forms current. The forms of terminated employees must be kept for a minimum of three years from the first date of hire or one year after the termination date, whichever comes last.

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