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Small businesses and US Immigration Laws: What is the I-9 form?


All employers in the USA are required to complete and retain an I-9 form for new employees to confirm their eligibility to work in the United States.  This form is to be completed within 3 days of hire and kept in a confidential folder separated from other personnel files.

Are these forms inspected by the US government?

Yes! Generally, employers receive a 3-day notice from either the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, or from the Department of Labor to advise that they will be inspecting I-9 forms. Whether you receive a notice or not, it’s not recommended to refuse these inspections. 

What if the forms are not completed?

Employers who fail to complete these required forms may be subject to civil fines and/or criminal penalties (when there is a pattern or practice of violations).  Monetary penalties for knowingly hire and continuing to employ violations range from $375 to $16,000 per violation, with repeat offenders receiving penalties, at the higher end. Penalties for substantive violations, which includes failing to produce a Form I-9, range from $110 to $1,100 per violation. There are different factors that are considered in determining penalty amounts such as the size of the business, good faith effort to comply, seriousness of violation, whether the violation involved unauthorized workers, and whether there’s a history of previous violations.

Businesses can also get in trouble by forgetting to complete the I-9 form within the required timeframe. For small business owners I recommend using E-verify, which is a program for employers to keep track of their I-9 verifications (

Where can I find the most recent version of the I-9 form?

It’s not common but sometimes these forms are updated. You may find the most updated I-9 form by following the link below.

It is extremely important that your business is in compliance with this, and other, labor-related laws. Contact us for a free consultation.

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