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I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification

Every employer’s responsibility

immigration attorney lawyer chicago i-9 employment eligibility verification enforcement penalties employee audit documents homeland securityAs of May 7, 2013, all employers are required to use the new, two-page I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification form. It is more important now than ever before to keep and properly maintain this form and its supporting documents for all employees of your organization. The Department of Homeland Security has recently increased enforcement activity against employers of all sizes. Penalties for failing to properly prepare and maintain the form can run into the thousands of dollars and may also lead to criminal prosecution in some instances.

Properly completing and maintaining the I-9 form may appear simple, but the rules governing this “simple” form are more complex than they seem. To better understand why the form causes problems for some employers, some of its basic requirements are discussed below.

Section 1: Employee Information and Attestation
New employees must complete Section 1 of the form on or before their first day of work, after acceptance of a job offer. The employee must enter biographic information, attest as to his or her work eligibility in the United States, and sign and date the form in the proper fields.

Please note that if the employee makes any mistakes on the form, you could be subject to a fine in the event of a government audit. To correct a mistake, the employee (not you, the employer) must draw a line through the incorrect information and enter the correct information just above or nearby. Every correction must have the employee’s initials and date next to it. Backdating is not allowed, so corrections must be entered before the employee signs and dates this section.

In addition to completing Section 1, employees must also bring documents showing that they are eligible to work in the U.S. Lists of acceptable documents are included with the I-9 form. Employees may provide either one document from List A, or one each from Lists B and C. As the employer, you are responsible for reviewing and verifying the information.

Section 2: Employer Review and Verification
Section 2 of the form needs to be filled out by you, the employer. Take care to enter all of the requested information in the correct data fields. (For instance, you must record a document from List B under the “List B” heading, and so forth). The information must be complete, including document title, issuing authority, document number, and expiration date (if any). Don’t forget to enter the employment start date in the certification section, and fill in your complete name, title, organization name and address in the proper fields. Do not sign and date this section of the form until all information is correct and complete.

In Section 2, unlike Section 1, some of the employer information, such as your name, title, and address, may be filled out in advance. But you must not sign and date the form until you have reviewed the employee’s information and documents.

Section 3: Reverification and Rehires
Section 3 of the form is used by the employer when reverifying an employee’s status, updating their name, or when an employee is rehired within three years of his or her original start date. Please note that reverification is required on or before the date of expiration of the employee’s prior employment status. 

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