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Form I-9 Violations Can Be Costly

Integrity Staffing & Solutions

Failing to implement the federal Form I-9 when hiring can be very costly to companies.  Penalties are levied if the Form I-9 cannot be produced for each employee that was hired.  Penalties are also levied if the Form I-9 is filled out, but not filled out correctly by either the employee or employer on their respective portions of the form.  The penalties for not completing and retaining a Form I-9, or for the form getting filled out incorrectly, range from $110 to $1,100 per instance.

It is important to note penalties are even larger when a company knowingly hires and continues to employ persons who are unauthorized to work.  Mandatory penalties ranging from $375 to $16,000 per single hire are levied when an employer knowingly hires and continues to employ a person or persons not authorized to work. 

The Form I-9 requirement has been in place since 1986.  A Form I-9 is required in all instances of hiring and is not exclusive to hiring only alien employees.  In recent years the Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security has stepped up the frequency of its audits of companies’ records.

A classic example of a company receiving a Form I-9 related penalty is what happened to a company called Ketchikan Drywall.  They incurred fines totaling $173,250.  When asked to produce Form I-9s on all employees hired for 3 preceding years, they found some employees were hired without the form ever being completed.  Additionally, some of the forms that were filled out and retained were filled out incorrectly by either the employee or the employer.

In recent years, the federal government has been casting a wider net in search of Form I-9 violations.  To protect their companies, all employers should make a practice of:

  • Completing a Form I-9 for each new employee within 3 business days of hire
  • Monitoring proper completion of both the employee and employer sections of the form
  • Retaining the original signed Form I-9 for either 3 years after the date of hire or 1 year after the employee’s employment is terminated, whichever is later
  • Keeping with the Form I-9 copies of any documents that the employee produces to establish identity and eligibility to work in the U.S. (copying is not a requirement, but, if copies are made, the copies must be kept with the Form I-9)

An excellent way to get started protecting your company is to set up and establish the means to maintain a compliant Form I-9 program.  At the same time, be sure all supervisors, managers and human resource representatives involved in the I-9 process are properly trained.

Please feel free to contact Integrity Staffing & Solutions if you have any questions about Form I-9, would like help in setting up a Form I-9 program, or  if you would like to explore Form I-9 training for your company.