Important Information on Employer Compliance and Form I-9 Employment Verification

By Keil Hackley

July 3, 2006 – In 1986 Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) which requires all employers to verify the employment eligibility and identity of all employees hired to work in the United States. To comply with IRCA, an employer is responsible for the completion of an Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9) for each employee, including U.S. citizens. In addition, employers are also required to retain original, completed I-9 forms for the longer period of either three years after the date of hire or one year after the date of termination.

Although the failure to comply with IRCA carries both criminal and civil penalties, past U.S. government initiatives have focused on education more so than on enforcement. Now, twenty years after the enactment of IRCA, the trend has drastically shifted to enforcement. In fact, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has initiated worksite enforcement operations throughout the U.S. targeting industries where employers knowingly hire undocumented workers seeking penalties against both the employers and the undocumented workers alike.

In conjunction with the U.S. government’s renewed interest in enforcing the employer verification requirements, ICE published two proposed regulations. The first proposed regulation deals with electronic I-9s, permitting employers to complete and sign versions of the Form I-9 electronically. The second proposed regulation deals with the use of fraudulent Social Security numbers by undocumented workers and clarifies the impact of a no-match letter from the Social Security Administration. Both regulations are subject to a 60-day public comment period, but became effective on an interim basis on June 14, 2006.

The implementation of these regulations appears to be the first-step toward anticipated changes in worksite enforcement. We will make every effort to keep you updated on additional changes, and recommend that you continue to refer to our website for additional postings.

M. Keil Hackley is a partner in the immigration law firm of Hackley & Robertson, P.A. and can be reached at (954) 349-4994 or kh@HackleyRobertson.com