By: Shah Peerally Esq.
Form 1-9, developed by the Immigration Reform and Control Act 1986 (IRCA), made it necessary for companies both big and small to hire only those who have the proper authorization to work in the US. This can be done by filling the I-9, which incidentally must be completed by both the employers and the employee. The form is applicable for everyone, whether citizen or alien, who has been hired after the 6 th of November 1986. It is mandatory that all US employers must complete a Form I-9 for each person they have hired after November 1986.

What is the purpose of I-9?

The purpose of I-9 is to verify an individuals’ eligibility regarding their employment in the United States. Compliance (The E-Verify 1-9 compliance) for I-9 is enforced by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (ENS) USA.

Your role as an employer for I-9-

– They must make sure that their employees fill out their part of the form 1-9 before they can start work.
– Thoroughly check the validity of the documents, which are given as proof of the employee’s identity and work eligibility in the US.
– They must retain the form I-9 for at least 3 years or till the employment of an individual is terminated.
– They must present a complete form I-9 for the inspecting officers of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) USA.
– For workers who are subcontracted, the subcontractors must be put on notice and signed off on a policy that is well documented.

What is an I-9 Audit and why are they done?

A I-9 audit is conducted by either the Department of Labor (DOL) or the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) departments, without any specific notice. This is mostly done because companies are supposed to have completed all documentation of form I-9, by the time an employee is working in the company. Compliance for ensuring form I-9 is best done by maintaining strong policies and procedures in dealing with I-9 preparation and maintenance. For this supervisors and members of the management need training in the relevant law for the documentation process that comes under scanner during I-9 audit process.

What Happens During an I-9 audit?

Most companies dread receiving a worksite investigation by the ICE in the form of an I-9 audit. This is because it is mostly a tedious and often also a disruptive process, if not an expensive one, more so if there is scope for fines because of non compliance of form I-9.

An I-9 audit might mean a visit by ICE officials for reviewing all the company’s I-9 forms. At times, they might also have a desk audit which means that the employer has to submit all I-9s, which provide payroll information besides supporting other necessary documentation within three days of receiving the notice.

After the investigation ICE tabulates the different types of violations that have been uncovered during the audit process. With the help of the same information, potential civil fines are calculated, which may start from $110 per I-9 form and go up much higher. Fines are usually based upon the seriousness of the offence, number of forms with errors, as well as the size of the company.

Consequences of non compliance of form I-9

Since 2008, the fines stipulated for I-9 violations have been increased. Paperwork violations for form I-9 now range from a minimum $110 to that of $1,100. The minimum penalty for a first offense, per worker is $375, whereas the maximum can be $3,200. A repeat offense might fetch a minimum fine of $3,200 per worker and a maximum of $6,500. A third offense might bring on you a minimum fine of $4,300 per worker, which might go up to a maximum of $16,000 too.

What can you do to avoid fines and avoid hassles regarding form I-9

Having an attorney who has experience in I-9 laws and can make you aware of all the procedures that you need to review for your I-9 forms can be a great help. In fact many employers and firms have gained from employing either a law firm or such a lawyer who can help you out. In most cases, employers are fined for unknowingly hiring aliens without properly documented form I-9s.

SahPeerally Law firm offers form I-9 compliance services:

The Shah Peerally Law firm can train your company management on the best ways of compliance of form I-9. The firms advices its client and offers the following services:
– Advice on how form I-9 can be corrected.
– Offer mock audits of your I-9 file compliance
– Assist with actual audits and related legal advice, with no additional costs.

Sources for understanding form I-9 procedures:

One of the very useful methods that advise and alert you on form I-9 procedures is the E-Verify process. This is basically a free Internet-based, program for those interested in learning and upgrading on their form I-9s. This simple program operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA) helps an employer in comparing information from an employee’s Form I-9 with that of government records.

If the information provided matches that of the record, the employee is eligible to work in the US, if not an E-Verify form I-9, alerts the employer so that the employee maybe brought to notice about the problem and given a time frame of 8 days, within which he/she can resolve it is allowed to work while he or she resolves the problem within eight days. An employer may or may not enroll in an E-Verify unless under exceptional circumstances.

The offices of Shah Peerally, might be contacted for those interested in discussing and receiving our advice on I-9 compliance and audits. We also inform clients the E-verify program. Shah Peerally Law Group has many experienced immigration lawyers who would be able to help you out in this regard. Feel free to contact us by email or call us at 510-742-5887 OR Email us at: info@peerallylaw.com