Federal Form I-9: A Tightrope for Employers

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Under Federal Law, all U.S. Employers are required to complete Form I-9 in order to verify that their employees are authorized for employment in the United States.  Every newly hired employee must complete Section 1 of Form I-9 on the first date of hire, and the Employer must verify the employee’s authorization for employment by physically examining specific documents and complete Section 2 of the I-9 Form within three days of hire.  
Completion of Form I-9 is mandatory for all U.S. employees hired on or after November 6, 1986. Many states have also enacted laws imposing additional requirements for Employers with regards to verification and retention of employment verification documents.

The current version of the I-9 Form (published March 8, 2013) consists of only two pages and is deceptively simple; indeed, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services’ Instruction Manual for the two-page I-9 Form is 65 pages long.

Proper completion of Form I-9 and verification of employment authorization can best be compared to walking a tightrope.  It is critical for Employers to understand that while their verification of employment authorization for all employees is required, they must also take great care to avoid any immigration-related discrimination in hiring practices as well.  Employers are strongly advised to pay close attention to what is required (to ensure they do not employ unauthorized workers) and what is prohibited (to ensure they do not engage in immigration-related discrimination against current and prospective employees).  

Both the employment of unauthorized workers and immigration-related discrimination against prospective, current and former employees can expose employers to significant civil penalties, loss of access to government contracts, and criminal liability.

With government investigations and audits on the rise, employers are strongly advised to consult immigration counsel for regular review of I-9 Forms and I-9 compliance training.  For further information on I-9 compliance and training, please contact Kolko & Associates, P.C.

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Kolko & Associates is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, German, and Slovak, and we can arrange for translators in any other language.