The I-9 form is an important legal document used collaboratively by foreign workers and employers alike to ensure compliance with immigration law. These forms are designed to ensure every worker has legal status, which makes compliance important. A knowledgeable immigration attorney could guide a business on I-9 compliance.
The Department of Homeland Security can impose serious consequences for the failure to comply with I-9 requirements for workers and businesses alike. Business owners have a duty to keep track of their workforce and ensure their compliance efforts are adequate. A Boston I-9 compliance lawyer could provide crucial guidance and ensure that your business is following the law.
In particular, the Massachusetts economy thrives with non-citizen workers, from manufacturing in Lawrence, to biotech in Cambridge, to fishing in New Bedford. Every employer is required to maintain I-9 compliance, but it becomes more complicated for employers who employ non-citizens.
The I-9 form was first introduced by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The purpose of this form was to help the government identify and keep track of foreign workers employed within the United States.
Compliance regarding the I-9 form must begin before a foreign worker ever starts their job. The worker must provide the necessary documentation to their employer establishing that they have the legal right to work in the United States. The employer must collect copies of these documents, some of which could include:
Once the employer collects these documents, they have three days from when the foreign worker starts their employment to complete their portion of the form. Retaining these forms and the documents that come with them is another responsibility of the employer. They must hold onto the I-9 and supporting documentation for at least one year following the termination of a foreign worker’s employment. A Boston attorney could provide insight on the best ways to be I-9 compliant.
There are few limitations on when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security, can seek documentation regarding a foreign worker’s employment. This government agency could issue something known as a Notice of Inspection (NOI) at any point. When a business is served with an NOI, they are required to submit valid I-9 forms and all supporting documentation for every employee within three business days.
If there are limited numbers of minor discrepancies or improperly kept records, a business might receive little more than a warning. However, if compliance issues are widespread, the penalties could be steeper. These might include hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and even the possibility of jail time.
There are different factors that go into what a penalty for noncompliance might be. For example, the federal government will take into account the size of a business as well as their history of compliance in the past. A history of noncompliance could result in steeper penalties.
Every potential violation is different, and there is no way for a business to be sure what kind of jeopardy they might face from compliance issues. Fortunately, every business has the right to seek guidance from an I-9 compliance attorney in Boston. This type of legal help could help a business avoid the penalties associated with noncompliance entirely.
It is vital that your business complies with all I-9 requirements. From correctly preparing the form to storing the support documents for the appropriate amount of time, there are many requirements that apply to business owners.
Compliance is complex, but you do not have to address it on your own. At Gorton Law, our experienced team is ready to guide you through this process. Reach out to a Boston I-9 compliance lawyer today to learn more.