Visa webSince November 6, 1986, employers must ensure that the Form I-9 is completed for every employee who performs work in the United States. Failing to complete the form, or completing it incorrectly, can result in serious fines.

What is an I-9 Audit?

Periodically the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) will review the records of a company to verify that they are complying with laws regarding the hiring of new employees. These I-9 audits are looking for intentional or unintentional mistakes made when filling out these forms. The goal is to prevent companies from cheating the system and hiring people who cannot legally work in this country.

Penalties for Non-Compliance with I-9 Laws

Even if a company did NOT knowingly hire illegal workers they can still be fined if the paperwork is incorrect. For example, in September of 2010 ICE announced a $1,047,110 fine for violating the Immigration and Nationality Act. The fine was imposed even though the clothing retailer fully cooperated with agents, and there was no proof it knowingly ever hired illegal aliens.

Best Practices for I-9 Compliance

Retain all documents relating to the Forms I-9. Employers are required to have completed Forms I-9 on file for each employee on payroll and must retain original I-9 Forms for three years after the date of hire, or one year after the date employment ends, whichever is later.

Diligently review the documentation provided by the new-hire that proves their identity and employment authorization. The employer must review and verify the employees verification within three business days of the employee’s first paid day of work. The employer has the duty to use reasonable diligence in verifying that the provided documentation is authentic.

If your company has questions about I-9 compliance or has been audited and has questions or concerns please call Arizona Immigration attorney Clint Dunaway at 480-344-4035.