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A Brief Guide to Penalties for I-9 Violations

Running a business comes with plenty of paperwork. Some of it is vital to keeping your company organized and running smoothly. But others, like I-9 forms, are important for ensuring that your company is operating legally. Failure to fill in these forms correctly and verify the information provided by employers can result in hefty fines.

Keep reading as we explore what I-9 forms are, and the penalties for I-9 violations.

What is an I-9 Form?

Before we dive into the penalties for violating I-9, it’s important to understand what this form is, and why it’s important.

Form I-9 is a document that is used to verify who your employees are and whether they are authorized to work in the United States. These forms are completed during your new employee onboarding. Both you by way of your HR department and your new hire will need to complete the form.

This document is used to verify eligibility for working in the U.S. However, your new employees do not need to be citizens to complete this form. However, if they are noncitizens, they must still prove their eligibility to work in the U.S.

On the I-9, your new hire will need to state their ability to work in the U.S. legally. In addition to filling out the form, they’ll need to provide documents that prove their eligibility, as well as their identity.

You won’t need to turn in this form to anyone. However, employers are required to hold onto it and present it for inspection by authorized government officers if requested. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your new employees are authorized to work in the U.S. and that they provide accurate information. In some cases, a background check can help you verify what’s listed on the I-9 form.

What are the Penalties for I-9 Violations?

What happens if you fail to present a valid I-9 form for an employee when it’s requested? You could face penalties. Employer penalties for missing or inaccurate I-9 forms can be implemented by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE.

These fines are adjusted annually to account for inflation. As of November 2022, the minimum fine a business can face per I-9 paperwork violation is $237. The maximum fine is $2,360.

The fines for knowingly hiring or referring employees not authorized to work in the U.S. carry even higher fines. The fine for the first offense will range from $590 to $4,722.

For the second offense, the fine will increase to between $4,722 and $11,803. For a third or any subsequent violations, the fine will range from $7,082 to $23,607.

These fines are adjusted based on a matrix that’s determined by the size of your business, how serious the violation is, any history of violations, as well as other factors.

Keeping Your Company in Compliance

Financial penalties for I-9 violations are only the beginning. In some cases, these mistakes can also lead to legal trouble for your company.

That’s why it’s important to educate yourself on employment laws. For instance, do you know what can happen if an employee provides a fake Social Security Number? Click here to find out.

Christina Hageny

Christina Hageny

President - Valor Payroll Solutions

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