Employee Immigration Compliance: Dot Your Is and Cross Your Ts

By Mary E. Ryan
Taylor & Ryan, LLC

Employers are well-advised to review their hiring practices with respect to verifying employment eligibility on Form I-9 as well as conduct an audit of existing Form I-9s. After all, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has made worksite enforcement a priority. Further, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has conducted high-profile investigations that have resulted in substantial fines based on I-9 violations and criminal charges for employers who knowingly employ undocumented workers.

Employers must ensure that they are using the latest versions of Form I-9, either the most recent version with a revision date of Aug. 7, 2009, or the preceding version with a revision date of Feb. 2, 2009. The new Form I-9s have been required since April 3, 2009. (The revision date can be found in the lower right corner of the I-9 form.) You can find the form on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Web site under “Immigration Forms.” It is essential that you use either of the latest forms as the law has changed with respect to the documents acceptable for verification of identity and employment eligibility.

USCIS’s new Employer Handbook (M-274) is revised and greatly improved. Again, check the USCIS Web site under “Services & Benefits” for “Employer Information.” The new form is required only for employees hired on or after April 3, 2009, or in any reverification of work authorization for existing employees, i.e., someone whose eligibility expires on or after April 2, 2009.

As you ensure that your I-9 procedures are consistent with the new requirements, you may wish to audit your existing Form I-9s to ensure that none of the I-9s indicate that work authorization has expired and that they were properly completed. Also, consider verifying that the documents presented to establish identity and eligibility were compliant with the previous standards.

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