Since the Immigration Reform and Control Act was first instituted in 1986, all United States employers have been required to affirm their employees are authorized to work in this country by ensuring they complete an I-9 form upon being hired. Failing to abide by this rule could result in steep fines, seizure of a company’s assets, and a potential prison sentence.
Thankfully, having a seasoned immigration attorney’s support could make a difference in understanding and complying with your responsibilities as a Georgia employer. If you face an investigation from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, retaining an Atlanta I-9 compliance lawyer could be vital to avoid any long-term consequences.
When an American employer hires a new employee, the worker must complete Section 1 of an I-9 form before they can begin working. Likewise, in the United States, employees must provide government-issued documents that prove their identity and their right to work—through citizenship, legal permanent residence, or specific work authorization. Once a worker confirms their eligibility, the employer has three business days to examine the employee’s documents for authenticity, complete Section 2 of the form, and make copies of the form and accompanying documentation.
Employers must keep these copies throughout a worker’s employment. However, if an employer terminates a worker, they must continue to hold the employee’s documentation for a minimum of a year or three years after their initial hire date, whichever comes later. If an employee is rehired less than three years after their initial hire date, their employer may revalidate their credentials by completing Section 3 of the I-9. Reverification and completion of this section is also necessary if an employer legally changes their name or if any of their identifying documents expire during their term of employment, as a knowledgeable Atlanta I-9 compliance attorney could explain in further detail.
At its discretion, ICE may audit businesses to verify that employers comply with I-9 regulations—usually with notice of no more than a few business days. If the audit reveals no violations, ICE will notify an employer in writing, and there should be no further issues. However, even accidental violations of relevant federal laws can result in substantial financial penalties. Often, the penalties become harsher if ICE determines that the violations were intentional or demonstrated a pattern of unlawful behavior.
No matter how many employees a business has or what its I-9 practices look like, it can be helpful to have representation from a hardworking and dedicated local lawyer. In addition to offering guidance about what an audit might entail, legal counsel could also help mitigate the severity of sanctions that ICE could enforce if they find evidence of a compliance violation.
Federal immigration authorities take I-9 laws seriously, and entities often crack down harshly on businesses that have breached those laws. Unfortunately, these violations can result in life-altering consequences for business owners and stakeholders.
Whether you have one employee or thousands, knowing what the law requires of you and following those requirements could be vital to protecting your long-term financial prospects and your freedom. An Atlanta I-9 compliance lawyer could discuss your unique circumstances and options with you during a confidential consultation. Call today to set up a meeting.