All employers must ensure that Form I-9 is properly filled out for each employee. Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of each employee coming to the United States to work. Form I-9 is a simple form, which asks the employee to complete identifying information such as name, address, date of birth, U.S. social security number, and immigration status.
Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents inspect Form I-9 to ensure all provided information is correct. Incorrectly or fraudulently completed Form I-9 can subject the employer to fines or criminal penalties depending on the seriousness and type of violation.
Fines can be considerable depending on the number of offenses and the severity of the offense. The USCIS has listed some of the violations and corresponding penalties on its website (last reviewed 2011). Specifically, continuing to employ a person with knowledge that the person is not authorized to work in the United States carries a minimum fine of $375 for each employee for first time offenders. The maximum fine for first time offenders is $3,200 per employee. If this behavior continues the minimum fine for third time offenders is $4,300 per employee and maximum fine is $16,000 per employee. The fines can add up quickly and it is very important to correct any discovered errors on Form I-9.
Other fineable offenses
Other fineable offenses include:
- Failure to comply with requirements of Form I-9
- Committing fraud Form I-9
- Document abuse
- Discrimination against an employee in the hiring, firing or recruitment or referral process
- Requiring a fee from the employee to guarantee that he is authorized to work in the United States (indemnity bond)
Criminal penalties can also be imposed for employers that demonstrate a pattern of hiring or recruiting or referring (for a fee) immigrants that are not authorized to work in the United States. Criminal penalties impose a fine and jail time of up to 6 months.
Form I-9 is an important tool used by the ICE to investigate working practices to ensure than employers are complying with lawful hiring practices. ICE audits Form I-9 and imposes fines on employers implementing unlawful practices. While it is not a complicated form it is important to make sure everything is correct because it is heavily relied on by ICE to investigate employers and employers can face significant consequences for failing to correctly file the Form I-9.
If an error is found
If an error is found, the USCIS recommends three easy ways to correctly rectify the error:
- Eliminate incorrect information by drawing a line through all the information that should be disregarded
- Enter the correct information on the form
- Initial and date the correction
Major errors may be corrected by filing a new I-9 form and should be filed along with a note that explains why the major corrections needed to be made.
For assistance with the I-9 Form or to correct an error found on the I-9, contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal. Attorney Khandelwal is an immigration attorney located in the Silicon Valley.
Correcting Form I-9, March 8, 2013, USCIS
Form I-9 Inspection Overview, June 26, 2013, ICE
Penalties, November 23, 2011, USCIS