To ensure that only individuals that are legally allowed to work get to work, the federal government mandates completing a Form I-9 for every new hire. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) requires employers to verify that the potential hire is allowed to work in the United States. As the Human Resources manager it is your job to make sure these forms are on file for every employee.
By law the employer must retain this form on file for the employee for a minimum of three years. The forms should be kept in the employee’s records as a part of the application process. I suggest you place this document with the application and Form W-4 along with any state hiring forms.
The form is relatively easy to fill out and requires the employer to verify eligibility with a minimum of two documents. Two of the following documents are required as a copy attached to the form in your file:
- Driver’s License
- State Identification Card
- Federal Identification Card
- School ID
- Military ID Card
- Voter’s Registration Card
- Social Security Card
- Birth Certificate
- Form I-551 (Eligibility to Work Document)
- Foreign Passport
All documents are categorized into groups the government refers to as Lists. Basically, a document can confirm identification or eligibility to work or both. Examples of a document that allows for both include a passport, an alien registration card or Form I-551. These types of documents can verify identification and the right to work in the US. The other documents can only prove identification or eligibility. For example the birth certificate will not have a photo attached but definitely verifies legal status for the right to work. A driver’s license can justify identification but not the ability to work.
As the employer you are responsible to confirm both identification and eligibility to work. Therefore you are allowed to accept a document form List ‘A’ (identification and eligibility) OR a combination of documents that identify the applicant, List ‘B’ and proof of eligibility which is List ‘C’.
Most applicants for a job will provide a driver’s license and a social security card. Foreign workers will use their passport or Form I-551 as proof. Younger workers have a little more difficult time and rely on their student id and some eligibility document such as the social security card or birth certificate.
A final step which is NOT required is to verify the employment eligibility of the new hire by confirming their documents via E-Verify. Go to www.dhs.gov/E-Verify and simply follow the directions. Once verified; print the confirmation via PDF and print a copy and place this document in the employee’s file.
By law you must have this document completed within three days of actual hire of the employee. The employee must fill out page one information prior to completing the first full day of work. Page two consists of verification of legal documents and these must be verified prior to the end of day three of employment. The employer is not required to file the information with the government, HOWEVER, the employer is required to decline any document that would or could be perceived to be incorrect. Again, I encourage you to use the e-verify system and demonstrate prudent responsibility as an employer.
One last note, failure to properly follow the law exposes the business to fines. Failure to have the completed form and supporting documents on file is fined between $100 upwards to $1,100. For those employers that knowingly hire illegal aliens fines can reach $11,000 each hire. Continued noncompliance can result in a criminal offense with imprisonment of up to 6 months in jail. Act on Knowledge.
To get a PDF version of the form and the instructions click here: I-9.
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