From the HR Corner – Employment Eligibility Verification

HR corner

My husband is a small business owner and we were recently talking about the expectations placed on companies these days when hiring new employees.  I said something about the Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) and he didn’t know anything about the form, and had never completed one for any of the employees in his office (but don’t worry – he’s compliant now!).  It got me thinking that there are probably a lot of small companies that don’t have a dedicated HR person on their staff, and that may not know about some of these HR regulations.

So…  since immigration has become such a timely topic, I thought I’d give you a little background on the Form I-9:

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires that “the employer must examine the employment eligibility and identity document(s) an employee presents to determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and to relate to the employee.”  The I-9 form was created to document this verification.

A few key points to know:

  • All employers must complete Form I-9 to document that every new employee is authorized to work in the United States.
  • Employees must sign a completed Section 1 of the Form no later than the first day of employment and employers must sign a completed Section 2 within three business days of the employee’s first day of employment.
  • The forms need to be stored either via paper or electronically (I-9s do not need to be filed with the government but must be stored in case the business is audited).
  • Forms must be kept for as long as the employee is working for you and for three years after the date of hire or one year after the date of employee separation from the company, whichever is later.

Effective January 22, 2017, all employers are required to use the revised Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) dated November 22, 2016 (the old version dated March 8, 2013, may no longer be used).  The new form incorporates features that should make compliance easier for the employer – it includes drop-down menus, embedded instructions for completing each field, hover texts and real-time error notifications.  All of these new features should help the employer reduce errors and make form completion easier.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducts random audits of businesses to ensure Form I-9 compliance.  Failure to comply can be costly and may result in one or more of the following penalties:

  • Fines of up to $1,100 per violation
  • Criminal prosecution
  • Additional fines of $375 to $16,000 per violation
  • Banished from receiving any further government benefits

If you would like additional information or a copy of the new form, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides a website,

And you can always call Sea Coast Staffing to help you with your HR questions!