Employers are required to fill out and keep a Form I-9 for every person hired after November 6, 1986. It is important for every company to have internal procedures for I-9 compliance. Self audits performed by HR departments should be performed annually. Separate files should be maintained for all Form I-9s and procedures should be in place to make sure that records are maintained and reviewed regularly. Forms I-9 must be maintained for all current employees and all required terminated employees. If errors or omissions are found during internal audits, corrections must be made properly to avoid liability.
Federal immigration laws provide for civil and criminal penalties against a company or its agents, officers or management if Form I-9s procedures are not properly followed.
Civil penalties can be enforced against anyone who knowingly accepts of provides any forged or false documents to satisfy any of the hiring or employment verification requirements. Criminal penalties can be enforced against any employer found using “(1) an identification document, knowing (or having reason to know) that the document was not issued lawfully for the use of the possessor (2) an identification document knowing (or having reason to know) that the document is false, or (3) a false attestation, for the purpose of satisfying a requirement of section 274A(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Civil penalties range from $250 to $2,000 per violation. Criminal penalties range from fines and/or imprisonment for not more than 5 years. Please see this recent press release from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding recent work site enforcement civil and criminal suits.
We can review your Form I-9s currently on file and assist you in preparing a personalized Form I-9 compliance program and an internal audit plan for your company. Your HR department must be aware as to how these documents must be recorded and reviewed. We can also keep you up to date on current and proposed legislation such as the Social Security No Match Letters, Employment Eligibility Verification (EEV) Program and the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).