Employer Compliance

The law requires that every U.S. employer have on file USCIS Form I-9, completed by each worker. On the I-9 Form, the employer swears under penalty of perjury that he or she has examined the worker’s documents which evidence legal work authorization. The form is somewhat confusing, as is the list of acceptable documents.

U.S. Citizens must show a birth certificate or Social security card and a sanctioned Photo I.D. A U.S. Passport or Naturalization Certificate will also suffice. Non-U.S. citizen workers must show the employer USCIS issued employment authorization such as the Resident Alien Card (Green Card) or an Employment Authorization Document both of which contain a picture of the applicant. A foreign Passport with a USCIS stamp indicating unexpired employment authorization is also acceptable. Other acceptable documents are set forth on the I-9 Form instructions.

I-9 Forms must be correctly completed and current for each worker. They are subject to audit by USCIS or the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). If the I-9 Form is incomplete or not on file, sanctions may vary from a warning to criminal sanctions in the thousands of dollars.

In addition, employers must use care when they require additional proof of Employment Authorization for particular workers. The law imposes civil fines for employer discrimination in the worker verification process. Accordingly, each worker, regardless of race or national origin, should be treated in the same manner when verifying his or her employment authorization. If the government notifies an employer of an audit of the I-9s, a qualified immigration attorney such as Donald N. Hubbard should be consulted immediately.

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This information is intended to answer questions of general interest for people in California only. It should not be construed as legal advice. For specific advice, please consult your attorney.