Five Keys to Understanding the I-9 Process

The Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 has been used since 1986 to verify the legal status of new hires to work in the United States. The form and its associated regulations were created under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).

The Form I-9 is legally required to be completed by all employees hired after November 6th, 1986, in the United States. Employers need to understand the form and its requirements as it is a critical immigration-related document. Here are five key factors of the Form I-9:

  • First, the current Form I-9 is dated October 21st, 2019 (Rev. 10/21/19). Employers are only allowed to use that form after that date.
  • Second, the employer retains the form for three years after the hire date or one year after the end of that person’s employment, whichever is later. Thus, if someone works for you for one week and quits, you must retain the Form I-9 on file for another three years. If that person leaves after five years, you must keep the form for one more year.
  • Third, Form I-9 requires the submission of documents by the new hire to verify their eligibility to work in the United States. You, as the employer, cannot demand which documents the job applicant or new hire must submit. Verifying documents are classified as A, B, or C levels and are usually listed within the Form I-9 booklet. Some documents show both identity and employment authorization (List A). Other documents show identity only (List B) or employment authorization only (List C). One List A document is sufficient; otherwise, the new hire must submit one from List B and List C.
  • Fourth, the employer – and the new hire – have three business days to complete the Form I-9, which requires the verification of submitted documents and signing and attesting to the information on the form. As a general practice, many employers start the I-9 verification process before the new hire begins work. However, you cannot start the process until a job is offered and the person accepts.
  • Fifth, an arm of the USCIS called ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) conducts periodic Form I-9 inspections. The inspections usually occur if the agency suspects or was alerted to people being hired even though they lacked the proper List A, B, or C documents. Fines for noncompliance range from $234 to $2,332 for each missing or inaccurately completed Form I-9. Additional penalties from $583 per worker up to $23,331 per worker can be levied in instances of immigration fraud.

To help employers ensure that their I-9 process is complete and complies with federal regulations, Personnel Concepts has created the I-9 Self-Audit eLearning Module. The program is a brief, interactive eLearning guide that provides critical information on Form I-9 compliance, common mistakes, and how to audit existing records.