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By:  La Toya Palmer – 5/29/14

Employers should audit their I-9 employment eligibility verification forms at least once a year. I like to suggest mid-year, late May or early June, so that if the process needs to be tweaked or an issue is identified, the employer can self-correct early on. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) enforces employer compliance with I-9 requirements. To ensure your company is in compliance remember these five “Do’s and Don’ts.”

  1. DO require all new hires to fill out a completed and current I-9 form on their first day of work. Always check to make sure that the employee signed the form to void possible penalties.
  2. DON’T ask an applicant to complete an I-9 prior to making a job offer. Collecting this information prior to making an offer can expose employers to potential discrimination claims made by disgruntled applicants who didn’t get the job.
  3. DO establish a consistent procedure for your I-9 process completion. Make sure that your hiring managers are educated on that process and understand the importance of following it.
  4. DON’T ask the new hire to bring in certain types of documentation or for more documents than the I-9 requires. Let the employee look at the requisite documents and make their own decision regarding which form of documentation they will bring.
  5. DO make and retain copies of all I-9 documentations in a file separate from the rest of the personnel files. Employers should keepI-9’s and supporting documentation for three years after the new hire’s start date or one year after his or her termination date, whichever comes later.

Non-compliance with I-9 regulations can prove costly for employers, with fines for poor documentation going upwards to $1,100 per form violation. In addition, knowingly hiring an illegal immigrant has a civil penalty of $16,000 for each worker. These costly fines can be avoided by simply conducting a mid-year check-up to audit your I-9 forms and ensure you are in compliance.