All US employers are required to use an I-9 form to verify the identity and eligibility of individuals (both citizens and non-citizens) for employment in the United States. Please take notice that effective today, January 22, 2017, there is a new I-9 form that replaces the one currently in place. You can download a copy of the new I-9 form by clicking here. For easy access, bookmark this blog entry for when you will need the form in the future.
This new form looks very similar to other recent incarnations with a few specific changes. The digital version linked above is now much easier to fill out online. It also includes the ability to general a QR code upon filling out the form, which can be helpful for providing copies to the appropriate parties. It also includes much more space to indicate preparers, translators, and other information that has often found it’s way to being written in the margins.
Where to File
Simply stated, employers do not file the I-9. Rather, employers must retain a copy of the completed form on file for each individual on payroll that is required to complete the form. The I-9 must be kept on file for the later of 3 years after the start of employment or 1 year after termination. The I-9 must be readily available for inspection if asked by the Department of Labor, Department of Justice or the Department for Homeland Security.
Employers who elect to either not fill out the I-9 or hold it for the required length of time will be subject to sanctions. Sanctions run the gamut from relatively minor to quite severe depending upon the nature of the underlying violation. Was the violation merely a clerical oversight or was there a pattern of non compliance? For example, a staffing company in December of 2015 was fined almost a quarter of a million dollars for falsely claiming it had properly verified the eligibility of 242 employees it had hired.
Discrimination and the I-9
Using the information obtained from a completed form may be the basis for a discrimination lawsuit. Remember, an employer cannot make a hiring decision, or firing decision for that matter, based upon nation origin or immigration status. This form is only used AFTER an individual has been offered a job. In addition, please remember that the form has not been replaced by E-Verify. E-verify is merely a way to double check the information provided on an I-9 by a prospective employee.
Douglas Leavitt is an attorney with Danziger Shapiro & Leavitt and focuses his practice on guiding business with their daily operational needs. Please feel free to contact him or any of the other attorneys at Danziger Shapiro & Leavitt to discuss how this new change will affect your business or any other issue you may have that concerns you and your business.
This entry is presented for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.