Not surprisingly, the federal government has a vested interest in monitoring the American workforce.
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While debates about undocumented workers rage in Washington and state capitols, business owners find themselves on the frontlines of employment eligibility issues.
In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act. The provisions of this act stipulate that new employees must provide proper documentation of their eligibility for employment in the U.S. In effect, the onus for monitoring employment eligibility was shifted from the state to business owners and their HR departments.
To facilitate the process, the government created an Employment Eligibility Verification form, also known as an I-9 form. For more than twenty years, employers have been required to complete an I-9 form for every new hire and to revisit the form whenever there is a change in a worker's eligibility status. Distributed and supervised by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department, I-9 forms are not something to be taken lightly. Failure to properly document the eligibility of your workforce could have severe consequences. Here's the I-9 form information your business needs to know.
Federal law requires new employees to complete an I-9 form at the time of hire. More specifically, both the employee and employer portions of the form must be completed within three days of the employee's first day on the job. As part of the process, employees must present documents verifying their eligibility to work in the U.S. Volunteers and contract workers are not required to complete an I-9, but employers can still be held responsible for hiring contractors they know are not authorized for employment. Instead of filing the form, you are only required to keep it on file and make it available for inspections for either three years after the hiring date or one year after termination (whichever is later).
There is a long list of documents that can used to verify employment eligibility. In many cases, workers will be required to produce more than one document based on document groups identified in the instructions section of the form. Some of the common types of documents that are used for verification include driver licenses, passports, birth certificates, Social Security cards, permanent resident (green) cards, valid temporary resident cards, employment authorization cards and other official documents.
The I-9 form includes provisions that prohibit discriminatory hiring practices. For more information about non-discrimination provisions, refer to I-9 Form instructions and the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services website (uscis.gov).