President Barack Obama has stated that America’s immigration system is broken. His plan is to build a smart, effective immigration system that continues efforts to secure our borders and cracks down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants. That’s right, employers, you heard your name.
Cracking Down on Employers
One of the four principles behind the President’s “common sense proposal” is designed to stop businesses from exploiting the system by knowingly hiring undocumented workers. According to www.whitehouse.gov, “since January 2009, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has audited more than 8,900 employers suspected of hiring illegal labor, debarred 8,590 companies and individuals, and imposed more than $100.3 million in financial sanctions—more than the total amount of audits and debarments than during the entire previous administration”.
All employers must verify each individual who is hired is eligible for employment in the U.S., even if the individual is a U.S. citizen. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties against the employer.
Responsibility #1: Verify Employment Eligibility
To verify that an individual is eligible for employment, the employer must complete a copy of Form I-9, “Employment Eligibility Verification”, for each employee. The employee is obligated to complete Section 1 at the time of hire. The employer is obligated, after reviewing Section 1, to complete Section 2 and Section 3.
Responsibility #2: Storing Form I-9
After the Form I-9 is completed, the employer must retain the form for each employee either for 3 years after the date of hire or for 1 year after employment is terminated, whichever is later. While it is not required, it is suggested that the original form be filed separately from the employee’s personnel file. Employers may face penalties of not less than $110 and not more than $1,100 for each employee whom a Form I-9 was not properly completed or retained.
Protection with E-Verify
To protect themselves, employers are going beyond Form I-9 collection and management to a service called E-Verify, which allows employers to verify electronically that an employee is eligible to work in the U.S. Since it is internet based, E-Verify can provide instant verification of employment eligibility by comparing information from an employee’s Form I-9 to data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records.
For further information regarding Form I-9 management and E-Verify, email us at [email protected].
Photo by United States Department of Homeland Security [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons