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Make sure your I-9 forms are A-OK by Steven Cesare

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires that all employers complete an I-9 Form for every new employee hired aſter November 6, 1986. Most importantly, employ- ers must complete the current I-9 Form for all new hires within three business days of their employment date. Employers must not com- plete an I-9 Form for independent contractors, employees from temporary agencies, or employ- ees not working on American soil. To avoid discrimination claims, the I-9 Form should not be administered until the applicant has received a conditional job offer.

Te I-9 Form has three sections: the employee completes Section 1 and the employer completes Section 2 and, if/ when necessary, Section 3. Parenthetically, a translator can assist the em- ployee in completing Section 1. Beyond the basic information requested in Section 1, the employee must attest to his/her citizenship or immigration status by selecting the appropriate box. Te most common errors committed in Section 1 include checking the wrong attestation box, the employ- ee not signing his/her name, and the translator not completing the appropriate information. Note: Te employer must pay a fine between $110 and $1,100 for each I-9 Form violation (e.g., omission, inaccuracy).

Section 2 requires the employer to review, docu- ment, and attest to the information provided by the employee. In this section, the employee must satisfy two criteria—identification and authori- zation to work—which can be done in one of two ways: 1. Te employee can submit a single docu- ment found under List A (e.g., U.S.Passport, permanent resident card, or Form I-766).

2. Te employee can submit one document found under List B (e.g., driver’s license, an acceptable ID card, voter registration card) AND one document found under List C (e.g., Social Security Card, Form I-197, or Form I-179).

Employers must only accept original docu- ments (not photocop- ies), and cannot dictate specific documents submitted by the employee, unless the employer participates in the E-Verify program, which requires all employees submit a Social Security Card. Employers must review all documents against the standard that they “reasonably appear on their face to be genuine and relate to the per- son presenting them.” If the employee does not provide acceptable documentation, the employer cannot hire the person. Te most common er- rors committed in Section 2 include transcribing documentation inaccurately, omitting the certifi- cation date, and not signing the form.

Section 3 is normally completed when an employee’s authorization document expires. Em- ployers should review all employee authorization documentation every 90 days to provide employ- ees with ample time to secure re-verification. Te most common errors associated with Section 3 are not completing it at all or failing to complete it in a timely manner.

I-9 Forms must never be stored in an employee’s personnel file.Tey should be kept alphabetically in two separate binders: one for active employees and the other for inactive employees. Te I-9 Forms must be kept for either one year post-termination date or three years post-hire date, whichever is longer.

Originally published in Planet News, July-Aug 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the author

Steven Cesare, Ph.D., is an industrial psychologist with Te Harvest Group. If you have any questions on this article, or any other human resources issue, please contact Cesare at 760-685-3800 or at Steve@



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