I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Compliance Procedures
By Greenberg Traurig's Business Immigration Group
View or download the PDF version of this Alert
Raids and pending investigations in the news are evidence that companies
need to protect themselves against potential fines, U.S. Department of Labor
and Immigration Agency audits, and debarment from immigration programs.
Thoroughly reviewing I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification compliance
procedures is a giant step in the right direction. A delicate balance between
compliance and avoiding unintended scare tactics that may disrupt the workforce
must be sustained when internally examining such matters.
By law, an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Document must be completed
for each employee within three days of hire. During the completion of an
I-9 an employer must attest on the I-9, under penalty of perjury, that it
has been presented with and has reviewed facially valid documents evidencing
both the person’s identity and employment eligibility. Substantial fines
can be imposed if these requirements are violated, even if only technical
violations are at issue. Often times these forms are completed incorrectly
or not all.
In cases of a merger or acquisition, the new, resulting employer is responsible
for the adequacy of the I-9 records maintained by the predecessor employer.
This is also the case in transactions involving the sale of stock or assets
or whenever a new employer continues to employ some or all of the previous
employer’s workforce. If an acquiring company discovers that the previous
employer employed people without valid work authorization, the acquiring
company has an obligation to immediately cure the violations. Due diligence
prior to an immigration "event" is an extremely efficient and cost-cutting
Additionally, if an employer subcontracts services to an outside party,
it may also be responsible for violations if there is knowledge of the contractor’s
employment of undocumented workers.
To avoid and limit liability, a company should routinely review its I-9
procedures to ensure that it is in compliance. This must be done in a non-discriminatory
way. Many employers understand that aggressive compliance with the employment
verification requirements may engender a climate of fear amongst the workforce
and result in either claims of discrimination or a significant loss of employees.
Developing a working strategy for ensuring compliance becomes difficult
when dealing with a localized workforce as well as one spread throughout
the nation. Competent immigration counsel can assist you in defining and
maintaining that equilibrium. Greenberg Traurig has extensive experience
with I-9 compliance from a practical business and legal perspective.
© 2003 Greenberg Traurig
For more information, please review our Business Immigration Practice
description, or feel free to contact one of our attorneys.
This GT ALERT is issued for general purposes only and is not intended
to be construed or used as legal advice. Greenberg Traurig attorneys provide
practical, result-oriented strategies and solutions tailored to meet our
clients’ individual legal needs. The Firm’s responsive approach to client
service often cuts across legal subject matter, applying the right experience
and resources to provide cost-effective solutions.