The job of a human resources manager is becoming increasingly difficult. The legal requirements for hiring and firing fill reams of paper, and you must stay compliant in all areas at all times. The I-9 Form is one area that needs detailed diligence. Without I-9 verification on each employee, your company could face stiff penalties. Below is a brief overview of the I-9 requirements, and how I can help your company stay compliant with a complex law through Accusource.
What is an I-9 Form?
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) mandates that employers must verify that newly hired employees are legally authorized to work in the United States. Prospective employees must present acceptable I-9 documentation to show their ability to accept employment. Form I-9 employment eligibility verification is critical to keep current, and the employer needs to complete Section 2 within three days of a workers start date. Moreover, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure completion of the I-9 documents. In addition, employers can run an employee’s information through e-verify to determine eligibility to work in the U.S. The e verify form is on the website operated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
To make things even more complex, form I-9 is not required for contractors or unpaid volunteers, although your company can still be held liable in certain situations if a contractor uses unauthorized workers, and your company knows about it. In addition, USCIS published an updated I-9 verification form last November that is required from January 22, 2017 on. All employers must utilize this new for I-9.
I-9 Requirements for Employees
By submitting I-9 verification, the prospective employee states under the penalty of perjury, that he or she falls into one of the following categories:
- A U.S. citizen
- A non-U.S. citizen national
- A lawful permanent resident
- An alien authorized to work
It is the employer’s responsibility to make a reasonable effort to examine the documents submitting as evidence of employment authorization and determine if those documents are genuine. The list of acceptable documents is quite long, and some may be easy to fake. Still, it is your responsibility to determine if they are authentic.
In addition, you must re-verify some ID documents prior to their expiration date, although valid Permanent Resident Cards and U.S. Passports are exempt. This includes any of the documents on the “B” list of acceptable ID documents such as state IDs and state driver’s licenses.
For citizens of the U.S., I-9 verification is valid continuously until the worker experiences a break in employment longer than one year. International employees on H-1b, F-1 or J-1 visas must re-verify their I-9 status every time the visa expires and the obtain a new one.
I-9 Requirements for Retention
You are legally required to retain the form I-9 for each current employee. In addition, you must retain the form for three years after the hire date, or 12 months after employment ends. Should your firm be visited by a labor or immigration authority, you must give them access to the documentation.
Valid for Work Only with DHS Authorization
If you cannot present accurate documentation for i9 compliance, the penalties can be high. It states on the USCIS form number I-9 the following: "federal law provides for imprisonment and/or fines for false statements or use of false documents in connection with the completion of this form." Fines for employing an unauthorized worker can range from $250 to $5,500 per employee. Your company can be barred from seeking federal government contracts, or you can be criminally prosecuted.
Failing to keep accurate records carries stiff penalties as well. You can be fined $110 to $1,100 for missing documents even if your employees are authorized to work here. In the last eight years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has imposed more than $80 million in I-9 violation fines. In addition, if ICE can prove that you knowingly participated in or committed document fraud, you could be fined $375 to $3,200 for a first offense, and that’s per document. Subsequent offenses range up to $6,500 per document.
AccuSource Can Help You
Is your head spinning yet with all the requirements and penalties? I can help you streamline this complex process and stay compliant. AccuSource has been in business since 1999 helping busy HR professional perform their jobs accurately with less stress. I can offer a wide range of solutions to verify employment eligibility, retain documents, and maintain a high quality of service. AccuSource keeps the data onshore for higher security and privacy, and we have a 99 percent client retention rate. AccuSource can reduce your paperwork, automate the I-9 process, provide heightened visibility, and ensure an employment eligible workforce. Contact me today and learn how I can make your job easier with form I-9 employment eligibility verification.