Recently, President Trump announced that a new round of workplace immigration raids would be postponed until after July 4. Regardless of when or if these raids happen, all employers should take this time to ensure that they are in compliance with federal law by having proper work authorizations for all of their employees. Workplace authorization is governed by the Immigration and Reform Control Act, which allows U.S. companies to hire and employ only U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, lawful permanent residents, and aliens authorized to work in the U.S. Employers must have a Form I-9 on file for every current employee hired on or after November 6, 1986. I-9 forms for former employees must be kept until the later of three years from the employee’s hire date or one year after their final date of employment. Such forms can be retained on paper or electronically.
To determine compliance with federal immigration laws for lawful work authorization, employers should conduct an audit of their I-9s to confirm, among other things, that each individual who should have an I-9 on file in fact has one on file; that any and all employment authorization documents are current; that all sections of the I-9 form have been fully filled out; and that any changes, such as a name change, have been properly documented. Corrections to I-9 forms must be handled carefully and in compliance with federal law. We have attorneys experienced in assisting employers with I-9 audits. Failure to properly follow the law regarding the maintenance of I-9 forms, including making corrections, can subject an employer to civil and criminal penalties.