How to Navigate the I-9 Process – Straight from the Handbook
The employment eligibility verification form, also known as the I-9, helps employers determine if a person is authorized to work in the U.S. It can also be an area of risk for employers if they are unaware of the laws that accompany this form.
One of the ways risk presents itself is if the employers require specific documents from employees during the I-9 process. If the Department of Justice (DOJ) sees that a large proportion of employees are presenting specific documentation it could spark an investigation, resulting in fines of over $100,000 in some cases.
It is important to know what is allowed by law, and what isn’t, when it comes to the I-9 form. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Handbook for Employers is there to give instruction. So, straight from the handbook, here’s what will get employers into trouble and how they can avoid it:
Risk for Employers:
1. Improperly requesting that employees produce more documents than are required by Form I-9 to establish the employee’s identity and employment authorization.
2. Improperly requesting that employees present a particular document, such as a “green card”, to establish identity and employment authorization.
3. Improperly rejecting documents that reasonably appear to be genuine and belong to the employee presenting them.
4. Improperly treating groups of applicants differently, such as requiring certain groups of employees who look or sound “foreign” to produce documents the employer does not require of other employees.
How Employers Can Avoid Discrimination:
1. DON’T set different employment eligibility verification standards or require that different documents be presented by employees because of their national origin and citizenship status.
2. DON’T request to see employment eligibility verification documents before hire and completion of Form I-9 because of how someone looks or sounds.
3. DON’T refuse to accept a document or refuse to hire an individual because a document has a future expiration date.
4. DON’T limit jobs to U.S. citizens unless U.S. citizenship is required for the specific position by law.
Employers who follow these guidelines will find themselves far better off than ones who don’t. However, these are just some main points of emphasis. There’s still a lot more for employers to learn before attempting to navigate through the I-9 process.
Make sure you check out the entire Handbook for Employers.