What is Form I-9?

Employers are required by law to verify the identity and employment eligibity status of everyone hired to work in the United States via the Form I-9. Employers must ensure proper completion of the form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment, including both citizens and noncitizens. Employees are required to provide documentation which indicate identity and employment authorization. Employers must retain Form I-9 for a designated period and make it available for inspection by authorized government officers. The form must be kept/ and stored for 3 years after the date of hire, or for one year after employement is terminated (whichever is later) and the form must be available for inspection by authorized U.S. Government officials.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

The government has been increasingly proactive in identifying and penalizing Form I-9 violations, notably since the release of the new form in 2008, and the revised version in 2013. In 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that Form I-9 audits had increased 375 percent since 2008, according to a statement from former ICE Director John Morton. Four years later and the crackdown on hiring practices hasn’t decelerated at all. In fact the fines levied against noncompliant businesses since the beginning of 2015 have been massive.

2015 Penalties

The office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Office (OCAHO) website lists decisions involving Form I-9 Violations. The first four months of 2015 yielded penalties totaling $370,000 for selected cases showcased by the OCAHO. In July of 2015 a company was hit with the largest I-9 paperwork fine ever ordered. In the matter of United States v. Hartmann Studios, Inc., 11 OCAHO no. 1255 (2015), a $605,250 fine was issued against Hartmann Studios for more than 800 I-9 paperwork violations in which the employer repeatedly failed to sign section 2 of Form I-9.

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