First passed into law in 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act imposed a requirement on all employers in the United States to confirm both the identity and employment eligibility of everyone they hire. Any company that fails to ensure prospective employees submit a completed and accurate I-9 form, verify that their employee are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, or store up to date I-9 forms for all employees may be subject to significant civil and criminal penalties.
If you are currently under investigation for an alleged IRCA violation, or if you simply want to prepare for a possible audit, contacting a Montgomery I-9 compliance lawyer may be in your best interests. A knowledgeable immigration attorney could explain exactly what federal law requires of you in this regard, help you meet those requirements to the letter, and defend your best interests during an ICE inspection. En español
I-9 compliance for employees is relatively straightforward, as it only entails completing Section 1 of the I-9 form given to them by their employer with truthful information and providing proof of identity and employment eligibility by presenting a photo ID, U.S. passport, Social Security card, Green Card, or similar documentation. Within three business days of the employee’s start date, their employer must then verify the validity of their documentation and complete Section 2 of the I-9 form.
On top of that, employers must retain copies of every employee’s I-9 form for at least three years after the date they were hired or at least one year after the date their employment was terminated, whichever comes later. If an employee remains employed by the same company after their I-9 form expires, or if their name changes at any point during employment, their employer must re-verify their eligibility to work in the United States by completing Section 3 of the I-9 form.
Employers may store employee I-9 forms in paper form, michofiche form, or electronically. However, while employers may use the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify system to quickly and efficiently check employment eligibility, usage of this program is voluntary for most employers and does not satisfy the I-9 storage requirement established under federal law. Once retained, a Montgomery I-9 compliance attorney could explain these obligations in greater detail and assist with fulfilling them.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has the authority to issue a Notice of Inspection (NOI) to a business at any time, which must then produce valid and complete I-9 forms for all their employees within three business days of receiving the Notice. If ICE’s ensuing inspection reveals minor discrepancies and/or technical violations of federal law, ICE may simply notify the employer of the problem(s) and provide ten business days for the company to correct them.
Conversely, substantive violations could result fines of anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars per violation and potentially even criminal prosecution, depending on factors like the specific type of violation, the size of the offending business, prior history of good-faith compliance efforts, and prior history of violations. In light of this, seeking representation from a skilled attorney should be a high priority for any employer in Montgomery dealing with I-9 compliance issues.
Adhering to federal law regarding employment authorization is an essential responsibility for any employer, as violating the IRCA by failing to keep I-9 forms on file or knowingly hiring an undocumented worker could have serious repercussions. On top of lengthy investigations and steep fines upon their conclusions, you could even face time in federal prison for repeated breaches of federal employment laws.
A knowledgeable Montgomery I-9 compliance lawyer could be a crucial resource and source of support throughout any interaction with DHS or ICE pertaining to your business. Call today to schedule a private consultation.