Federal law makes it unlawful for employers to knowingly hire or continue to employ personnel unauthorized to work in the United States. To verify a new employee's authorization to work in the United States, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires employers to complete a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for each new employee hired after November 6, 1986. Failure to abide by federally mandated procedures within specified timeframes or incorrect completion of the Form I-9 can result in substantial fines.
Employers who fail to properly complete, retain or make forms available for inspection face fines ranging from $100 to $1,100 per individual Form I-9. For employers who knowingly hire or continue to employ unauthorized workers, penalties may range from $250 to $11,000 per violation. Where an employer has engaged in a pattern or practice of knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized workers, fines may total as much as $3,000 per employee. Moreover, individual officers or representatives of the employer may be subject to criminal penalties.
Beyond the federal regime, individual states vary with respect to employer obligations for verifying employment eligibility. Penalties at the state level may include additional fines, and even suspension of the employer's license to operate. Knowledge and diligence are pivotal to understanding and avoiding Form I-9 penalties. Despite the compliance burdens placed on employers, excessive scrutiny of a candidate's documents can result in charges of discriminatory hiring practices. Devendorf Law offers employers precise guidance to ensure compliance in this complex area. We have experience advising employers in the areas of Form I-9 audits, document verification, electronic storage and backup, and E-Verify training. Devendorf Law is also has experience conducting Form I-9 audits in the context of due diligence, and we are able to work with employers to formulate practical internal protocols for establishing and maintaining compliance.