All employers have an obligation to complete form I-9, the Employment Eligibility and Verification form, which verifies the identity and employment eligibility of all newly hired employees.
Beginning May 7, a new I-9 form will supersede the current form and employers will no longer be able to use the old version.
The I-9 form records the relevant data from the documents that the employer inspected to confirm the employee's authorization to work in the United States. It is important that employers clearly identify the documents they review, including all identification numbers.
Both the employer and the employee must sign the I-9 form. Employers are required to maintain an original I-9 for all current employees and make them available for inspection during business hours to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau.
Employers must also retain the I-9 forms of former employees for a period of at least three years from the date of hire or for one year after the employment relationship terminates, whichever is longer. It is not necessary to retain copies of the documents used to complete the form.
ICE, an arm of the U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security, is committed to increased work-site enforcement, particularly in cases of low skill and high turnover industries.
Employers should regularly audit their I-9 procedures, compliance and record-keeping. It is also a good idea to establish a protocol at the "front desk" so that if ICE is on the phone, the call is routed to the person at the company responsible for dealing with government inquiries.
One final tip: All companies should make sure that key management and human resource staff understand all policies and protocols relating to I-9 record-keeping.
-- Joel Pfeffer, Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, email@example.com
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