For many years, employers have been required to verify the identity and employment eligibility of their employees.
The I-9 form is used by employers to document this information and they are required to maintain the original form for all current employees. For former employees, the employer must retain the I-9 form for at least three years from the date of the employee’s hire or for one year after the employee is no longer employed, whichever is longer.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has an inspection process to ensure employers are complying with I-9 requirements. ICE may request the employer to produce
I-9 forms and supporting documentation such as payroll records, employee records, business licenses and other information.
If ICE finds that the employer has a technical or procedural violation, the employer will have an opportunity to make corrections. If the employer does not correct the violations, it may be required to pay a fine. If the employer has knowingly hired or employed workers without an I-9, it is required to stop the unlawful activity, may be fined and may be held criminally responsible.
ICE considers several factors in determining penalties. These include the size of the business, good faith efforts to comply, the seriousness of violation, whether the violation involved unauthorized workers and whether the employer has any previous violations.
In situations where there is a substantive, uncorrected issue the employer may have an opportunity to negotiate a settlement with ICE or request a hearing. I-9 inspections can be complex, but an experienced immigration attorney can answer questions and provide representation.