Federal law requires every employer hiring an individual for employment in the United States to verify his or her identity and employment authorization through completion of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.
2012 saw a record number of Form I-9 audits and enforcement actions. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted more than 3,000 audits in 2012, compared to just 250 in 2007. A number of audits focused on discriminatory employment practices. For example, employers may not, for the purpose of verifying a worker's employment eligibility, request more or different documents, reject reasonably genuine looking documents or specify certain documents based on citizenship status or nationality.
The one-page form appears simple, but comes with a 69-page manual of instructions (http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/m-274.pdf). Common I-9 processing errors include:
- Incomplete forms (missing signatures, incorrect dates)
- Failure to meet the 3-day rule (the Form I-9 must be completed no later than 3 business days after the employee begins work)
- Failure to re-verify employees of certain citizenship statue
- Failure to obtain the right combination of valid identifying documents
- Improper document retention and storage (employers must retain a Form I-9 for the later of one year after the date employment was terminated or three years after the terminated employee began work).
Note that a new two-page Form I-9 will shortly be released, but until that time, employers should continue using the existing one-page Form I-9 currently available on the forms section of http://www.uscis.gov
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers free webinars to explain and demonstrate how to complete a Form I-9 – check out upcoming webinars at http://tinyurl.com/3cwqwto