07/26/14 By Jennifer Brown

New I-9Are you completing the Form I-9 for your employees? And if you are completing it, are you doing it correctly? There are many specific rules associated with this form and process — and these rules can cause significant problems for employers if they aren’t followed. For example, if you fail to properly complete, retain, and/or make available for inspection the Forms I-9 as required by law, you may face civil money penalties in an amount of not less than $110 and not more than $1,100 for each violation!

All U.S. employers must verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States and this is done by completing the Form I-9. Here are a few important things to keep in mind:

You may not begin the Form I-9 process until you offer an individual a job and he or she accepts your offer.

• The form must be filled out accurately – so be sure to read all form instructions carefully.

–           If you do make a mistake or find an error on a Form I-9, draw a line through the old information, then write the new information above in a different ink color. Never erase or use white-out. Date and initial these changes with the current date.

–           If significant changes must be made, complete a second Form I-9 and attach it to the original form, with documentation explaining the reasons for revision.

• The employee must present to you an original, unexpired document or documents that show his or her identity AND employ­ment authorization within three business days of the date employment begins.

• The employee must be allowed to choose which document(s) he or she wants to present from the Lists of Acceptable Documents – you (the employer) cannot tell the employee which documents to use.

• The employer must physically examine each original document(s) the employee presents to determine if it reasonably appears to be genuine and to relate to the person presenting it.

Note: The Form I-9 Central website has guidance on examining documents. This site will help you determine what to do if there are issues with the documentation presented or no document is available. Ultimately, you may have to terminate the employee – but be sure to visit the Form I-9 Central website before taking any action with an employee.

Keep track of employment authorization documentation expiration dates. When an employee’s employment authorization document expires, you must reverify his or her employment authorization no later than the date employment authorization expires.

• You must retain and store the Form I-9 either for three years after the date of hire or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later.

• The form must be available for inspection by authorized U.S. Government officials.

There are MANY pieces to the Form I-9 process and you need to ensure you are in compliance with every step. Get the Employer Form I-9 Handbook, it is a terrific resource that will help you to prevent problems and save you significant time and money associated with non-compliance with the Form I-9 process!


photo credit Arvind Balaraman via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jennifer Brown is the founder of PeopleTactics LLC, she is devoted to helping small business owners implement solutions to prevent Human Resources problems that drain them of their time, money, and energy. Jennifer works with small businesses in order to help them build stronger employee relationships, understand and comply with employment laws, establish policies, and set up easy-to-use HR systems to consistently avoid problems.

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