Maintaining I-9s: Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts

Posted by on April 14, 2011 at 6:19 pm.

For the past year, the Department of Homeland Security has cracked down on employers who violate the immigration and I-9 rules.  In this time of increased enforcement and stiff fines, making sure your organization has properly completed the I-9 Forms (and accompanying documentation) is paramount.

Maintaining I-9s: Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts

The Immigration Law specifies those who can work in the United States.  Hiring employees who are not eligible to work can result in civil or criminal penalties.  If, after hiring a new employee, it turns out that the employee is not eligible to work in this country, you cannot legally continue their employment.  As a starting point, please review these Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for legal I-9 maintenance:

  1. Do require all new hires to complete and sign Section I of the I-9 Form on their first day of work but no later than three days after their first day of work.
  2. Don’t ask an applicant to complete an I-9 prior to making a job offer.  Applicants can allege that you used this information as discrimination against them.
  3. Do review each employee’s documents to make sure they are an acceptable document per the new version on the I-9’s list (on the back of the I-9 form) and that these documents appear genuine.  One document from List A or; one document from List B and one document from List C.
  4. Don’t ask new hires for any specific or particular document(s), or for more documents than the I-9 requires.  The employee must choose which documents to use, not the employer.
  5. Do ensure that you are using the current I-9 form (with the expiration date of 08/31/12).
  6. Don’t consider the expiration date of I-9 documentation when making any employment decisions.
  7. Do make and retain copies of all I-9 documentation.
  8. Don’t forget to keep a tickler file to follow-up on expired documents.
  9. Do keep I-9s and documentation after an employee is no longer working for your organization in a separate file.  These must be retained for three years after an employee’s hire date or one year after his/her termination date, whichever comes later.
  10. Don’t put the I-9 form and documentation in the employee’s personnel file.  This will protect your organization from discrimination claims.  Set up a separate filing system for the I-9 Forms and documentation.

If you need assistance in conducting an I-9 Audit or in setting up your I-9 files, please contact Mindi Brenner.

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