What to do About Expired I-9 Forms

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As a Georgia employer, you’re probably well-aware of the employment requirements established by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when hiring new employees. You and the worker must both fill out the relevant sections of the  Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, which is used for confirming the identity of the employee and his or her authorization to legally work in the US. In many situations, there’s limited need to revise, change, or modify the Form I-9 once you have it on file in the employee’s personnel file. You may only opt to update it if you rehire a worker within three years after completing the original, or if your employee goes through a legal name change.

However, there are some situations where you MUST address the Form I-9, which is a matter of grave importance when you hire someone whose work authorization has expired. Generally, the issue will come up if your employee is not a citizen of the US and has time limitations on being able to legally work. There can be severe penalties for noncompliance, so trust a Georgia employment law attorney to make sure you handle the reverification process. Still, some background information can help you understand what to do about expired I-9 Forms.

Overview and Purpose of Form I-9: As the name suggests, this form is intended to ensure that employees are authorized to work in the US. By having the employer verify the identity of the worker and having the employee attest to employment authorization, the USCIS aims to eliminate the potential for employees to work for a company when they’re not authorized to do so because of immigration laws. From the standpoint of the employer, you’re required to follow a certain process:

  • You must present the Form I-9 to the employee for completion before the end of the first day he or she works for you.
  • You need to review the employee’s attestation regarding employment authorization.
  • Then, you must examine eligibility and identity documents provided by the worker. There are certain Form I-9 Acceptable Documents that the employee can present as evidence that he or she is allowed to work in the US. Upon inspection, if they reasonably appear to be genuine and unaltered, you’ve complied with your legal obligation. If you suspect that the documents have been illegally modified, you cannot accept them.
  • Finally, you’re required to keep the Form I-9 for a designated period of time and make it available if government officials seek to inspect it.

The details may vary according to your unique situation, and a lawyer can assist with the specifics of the above process. Note that the failure to comply with Form I-9 requirements could trigger, USCIS penalties for noncompliance – including both criminal and civil sanctions.

Form I-9, Section 3 Reverification: The issue of expired I-9 Forms enters the picture if and when the Acceptable Documents lapse in terms of effective date after you reviewed them at the outset of the employment relationship. When any of these employment authorization documents expire, your Form I-9 does as well – leading to a situation where your NOT in compliance with employment laws. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to terminate the employee, but you must execute Section 3 Reverification before the expiration date. Again, there’s a process for ensuring you’re following the law:

  • Review the initial Form I-9 to determine the date the employment authorization, and examine the date the Acceptable Documents expire. If the dates are different, use the earlier one to determine when you must go through reverification.
  • It’s recommended that you inform the employee that reverification is necessary at least 90 days before Form I-9 expiration.
  • When the time comes, you’ll complete Section 3 Reverification – which is very similar to what you went through when initially hiring the employee. You’ll need to review updated, unexpired Acceptable Documents, record the effective and expiration dates for each, and sign the Section 3 Form.

Speak to a Georgia Employment Law Attorney About Expired I-9s

As you can see, there are several issues to consider when addressing expired I-9 Forms, so it’s critical that you rely on a knowledgeable lawyer for assistance with completing Section 3 reverification. You face fines and other penalties for noncompliance, and there may also be an impact on your reputation as a company. Our team at the Vaughn Law Firm can advise you on how to handle the process and assist with the paperwork, so please contact our office in Decatur, GA to speak with one of our attorneys. We have decades of combined experience serving clients in DeKalb County, Fulton County, and Cobb County, so we’re prepared to help you navigate many different employment law issues.