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Form I-9-Verification of Employment Eligibility

Whenever an employer hires an employee, it is responsible for completion and retention of form I-9 for that individual.  This is true even if the new employee is a U.S. citizen. The form requires the employer to verify the employment eligibility of the employee and record the document information. The form lists numerous documents that the employee may submit to establish his or her identity and employment eligibility. It is important to note that the employee must submit only original documents. The one exception is a birth certificate. The employee may submit a certified copy of the birth certificate. The employer cannot be charged with a verification violation if it properly completed form I-9 and  ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) determines the employee is not authorized to work. The reason being that the employer has a good faith defense that it took the required steps to verify employment eligibility of the employee. The government would have to prove actual knowledge by the employer that the employee was not authorized to work.

While employers are required to verify eligibility for employee, they are prohibited from making judgments, decisions, or engaging in conduct that may violate discrimination laws.  As such, employers are to exercise significant care to ensure that employees’ civil rights are not violated while it seeks to fulfill its I-9 compliance obligations.  To this effect the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, has issued a handbook to assist employers comply with I-9 requirements while preserving employees’ rights.

Employers who employ unauthorized workers or fail to comply with the I-9 requirements may be subject to penalties.

Click here for frequently asked questions regarding the I-9.

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