I-9 Basics for Employers

February 3, 2011 09:12 AM
 

Labor and immigration attorney Anthony Raimondo reminds employers to follow these I-9 basics:

  • Employers must complete I-9 forms for all new hires, including U.S. citizens. The employee must complete Section 1 of the I-9 form no later than the first day of work. If he or she is given help of any kind in filling out the form, the assisting person must sign the Preparer and/or Translator Certification. The employee then has three business days to produce documents so that the employer can fill out Section 2, the I-9’s document verification section.
  • Documents must be originals that “reasonably appear genuine on their face.” Employers must provide the employee with the list of acceptable documents along with the I-9 form so the applicant can decide which documents to present. If a mistake is made on the form, don’t use Wite-Out or obliterate the mistake, since this might cause suspicion. Employers aren’t required to retain copies of the document, just the original I-9, and should not keep copies. “Copies allow the government to second-guess whether the document really appeared to be genuine,” Raimondo says.
  • If an employer has information indicating than an employee is not authorized to work, there is a duty to inquire further about the worker’s status. If an employer receives a mismatch notice and the employee used a Social Security card for verification, he or she should re-verify the I-9 without using the questionable Social Security number (SSN) if the employee cannot verify the accuracy of the SSN.
  • Employers must understand their obligation to update or re-verify expired documents. Expired documents are never acceptable for an initial verification. Only certain documents, however, require an employer to update the I-9 upon expiration. “The key is whether the underlying authorization to work expires along with the document,” Raimondo says.
     

For example, if the employee provides a temporary work authorization document, the I-9 must be updated when the authorization expires. However, if the expiration of the document does not indicate an expiration of the right to work (expired passport, Permanent Resident Card or driver’s license), there is no need to update the I-9 when the documents expire.
 

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