Policy Notes: Rules and Regulations for Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) Compliance

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To comply with the U.S. Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), employers are required to collect a Form I-9 from each employee hired or rehired within the following timelines:

  • An employee must complete the Form I-9 by the end of the first day of work.
  • An administrator must review original documents establishing the employee's eligibility to work in the U.S. and complete the employer section of the Form I-9 within 3 business days of the employee's first day of work
  • For employees temporarily authorized to work in the U.S., updated work authorization documents must be obtained and reviewed prior to the expiration date of the current work authorization.

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against any class of persons in administration of the I-9 process.

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Section 2 – Authorized Representative

Since the Form I-9 must be signed by an authorized representative of the employer, we do recommend that a regular employee review the documents presented and complete the form.

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Non-compliance with IRCA invokes civil and criminal penalties:

Civil and Criminal Penalties Due to Non-Compliance with IRCA
Violations When... Penalties
Paperwork Violations
  • Form I-9 not collected for a new hire or rehire
  • Form I-9 collected, but not within 3 days, for a new hire or rehire
  • Form I-9 collected, but not fully completed
$216 to $2,156 per form
Employment Violations
  • Knowingly employing, or continuing to employ, an unauthorized worker
$539 to $21,563 per employee, per incident, plus the potential of criminal penalties
Unlawful Discrimination
  • Requiring different documentation to be presented for different groups of employees – Employers cannot specify which document(s) they will accept from an employee
$445 to $17,816 per employee, per incident

For additional information on IRCA compliance and enforcement, see Fact Sheet: Form I-9 Inspection Overview on the U.S. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) web site.

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Employee Failing to Present Documents

Employment must be terminated if an employee:

  • cannot or does not present I-9 documents or obtain receipts within the 3 day period
    Acceptable:  A receipt for a replacement document is acceptable only when the document has been lost, stolen or damaged. Employees may work for up to 90 days with a valid receipt.
  • cannot or does not present updated work authorization documentation by the end date of the current authorization
    Acceptable:  Renewal receipts, when the renewal was properly filed prior to the current end date, are acceptable documentation for H-1B, O-1, and certain types of EAD cards. For a list of EAD card categories eligible to work while an extension is pending, see the list on USCIS web site.

    NOT Acceptable:  Renewal receipts are not acceptable for extensions of Employment Authorization (EAD) Cards or for an individual moving from one visa type to another.

If work was performed during the 3-day I-9 collection period, the employer should pay for those hours to comply with California Labor Code.

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