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Papers Please (I-9 Forms)

BUSINESS  PERSPECTIVE

Papers Please

It recently came to our attention that there are some IKECA member companies that do not keep I-9 Forms on record for their employees. The guilty parties shall remain nameless for obvious reasons, but we thought it best to provide all members with the following infor­mation on these forms.

In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act made all U.S. employers responsible for verifying their employees’ work eligibility and identity. You are required to document this verification on an Employment Eligibility Verification form, also known as an I-9 Form. This law applies to all U.S. employ­ers regardless of company size.

The verification process involves the employee submitting one or more of the approved documents to verify his identity and work eligibility. A complete list of acceptable docu­ments is available on the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site at www.uscis.gov.

A new employee is required to complete Section 1 of the I-9 Form no later than close of business on his/her first day of work. Their signature holds them responsible for the accuracy of the information they provide. The employer is responsible for reviewing the documentation presented by the employee and recording the document information on Section 2 of the form. This must be completed no later than close of business on the employee’s third day of employment.

The government does not expect employers to be document experts able to verify the authenticity of a document presented by an employee.  However, they are held to a reasonable standard.  If an employer accepts a document that is not in fact genuine, that employer will not be held responsible provided the document appeared to be genuine.  An employer who receives a document that appears not to be genuine should request assistance from the nearest Immigration field office.

Unlike tax forms, for example, I-9 Forms are not filed with the U.S. government. Employers are required to maintain 1-9 records on file for three years after the date of hire or one year after the date of employment termination, whichever is later. You should also be aware that if you take over ownership of an existing business, you will be held responsible for any errors, omissions or deficiencies in the acquired records. You may want to protect yourself by having a new I-9 Form completed for each employee and attach that form to the employee’s original I-9 Form.

For more information on this or other immigrant work related issues, visit the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly known as the INS) at www.uscis.gov.

This article appeared in the Fall 2003 IKECA Journal

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