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Employer Guide to Employment Verification Requirements

As an employer your role in documenting alien employees can be tricky. Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) you are required to substantiate through review of certain documents that your employees are authorized to work in the United States while simultaneously avoiding unfair employment practices. Penalties for I-9 violations can be expensive, in some cases civil penalties have reached over $50,000. With this quick guide you can ensure all of your company is in compliance with all regulations.

It is required that you complete an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form for all new hires within three days of the employee's first day on the job. The only exception to the three day rule is if the new employee lacks a required piece of documentation and shows a receipt proving they have applied for a replacement document. All documents must be presented and the I-9 form completed within 90 days of the employee's first day of work. You can conduct the I-9 verification process before the new hire starts work, but you should not initiate it before a job offer is made and accepted as hiring someone after seeing documents that reveal citizenship status, age, and national origin could be grounds for a discrimination claim. The form must be kept on file for three years from the hiring date or one year after termination, whichever is later.

There are three categories of acceptable documents for the I-9 form. You must have either one document from List A or one document each from List B and C. 

List A

List B

List C

Documents that establish both identity and employment eligibility

Documents that establish identity

Documents that establish employment eligibility

Example: U.S. passport or temporary resident card

Example: drivers license or voter registration 

Example: Social Security Card or birth certificate

You must verify the original documents as photocopies are not acceptable and you must accept documents that appear authentic. If documents appear to be falsified or belong to someone else, contact the nearest Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) office.

All employees hired after November 6. 1986 are required to have an I-9 on file, regardless of citizenship or hours worked. If the employee received a W-2 tax statement the I-9 is required. You are not required to have an I-9 for independent contractors or their workers, but you should ensure that the workers have gone through verification. By knowingly using an independent contractor who employs unauthorized alien workers you can face a potential I-9 violation.


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