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Carl Shusterman's Immigration Update

Employers: Form I-9 On-Demand Webinar

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average. The DHS has recorded a series of 14 short videos which explain to employers the basics of completing and storing I-9 forms. The videos also instruct employers how to comply with antidiscrimination laws in the I-9 process.

Having conducted over 100 I-9 seminars for employers since 1986, and creating I-9 videos, it always distresses me to see employers fined millions of dollars for I-9 violations. Hopefully, the following DHS videos will help employers understand their obligations under the I-9 laws and procedures:

1. Introduction
2. Why use Form I-9?
3. Who can legally work in the United States?
4. How do antidiscrimination laws protect employees?
5. Who is required to have a Form I-9?
6. How to Complete Section 1
7. How to Complete Section 2
8. How to Complete Section 3
9. Acceptable Documents for Form I-9
10. How should I store Form I-9s?
11. How long am I required to keep Form I-9s on file?
12. What do I do if I discover a mistake or I'm missing a Form I-9 for an employee?
13. How do Form I-9 and E-Verify work together?
14. Where can I find contact information and additional resources?

At the end of some of the videos, the DHS has posted links to various online resources. As good as these short videos are, I cannot stress enough that I-9 compliance is a complex procedure, and that although the videos do a great job in introducing employers to the basics, there are hundreds of technicalities that are not covered in these videos.

For example, there is a box on Part I of the form for persons who are noncitizen nationals to check. I would venture to guess that 99.9% of employers (and probably most DHS employees) have no idea what a noncitizen national is.

Also, many rules for completing I-9 forms are not listed in the law or even in the USCIS regulations. When can an H-1B employee who is changing jobs start working for the new employer? What forms does he have to present to show that he is authorized to be employed for I-9 purposes? These type of questions are not covered in the videos.

We agree with the DHS that in addition to watching the videos, you consult with I-9 Central and the Employers' Handbook. You should also retain the services of an experienced immigration attorney to answer questions and to conduct periodic internal I-9 audits.

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  1. Retired INS's Avatar
    I managed the Fresno immigration office for 27 years and also conducted many I-9 seminars. I attended the first INS conference relating to employer sanctions and saw the guidance get more specific as the years passed and more problems came up. Its possible that an employer hiring an H-1B who has not yet received permission to change employers might not be fined. The fine is for knowingly hiring someone without employment authorization. However, the valuable employee is still lost from the workplace and that can cause a serious problem. I once arrested a Japanese "chicken sexer" whose job was to separate baby roosters from baby hens. There was no fine, but the business nearly went bankrupt without this important employee. My point is that the fine is not always the worst part of employer sanctions.

    When this provision was included in the 1986 amnesty law, many INS agents called it "The immigration counterfeiter's full employment act." Prior to this time counterfeit documents were primarily used in half-hearted attempts to enter the country illegally without walking through the desert. Employer sanctions made counterfeit documents a necessity for getting a job in the U.S. Many employers didn't care if the document was fake, as long as they didn't know. Today, with E-Verify a possible mandated effort, employers must be careful to follow the rules. The Office of Special Counsel has the big fines, but if ICE takes away a key employee, thousands of dollars in training is lost.
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