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When the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was passed, the driving force was to preserve jobs for those who are legally entitled to them and the government’s attempt to curtail unauthorized employment.

IRCA requires all employers to verify the identity of employees and their eligibility for employment in the United States for employees hired after November 6, 1986. Employers meet this requirement by retaining Form I-9 , Employment Eligibility Verification, for each employee.

IRCA prohibits an employer from:

  • Knowingly hiring an alien who is not authorized to work.
  • Hiring any individual without verifying identity and work authorization.
  • Continuing the employment of a person if the employer knows or should know that the person is not authorized to work.
  • Knowingly forging, counterfeiting, altering or falsifying any document to satisfy any immigration-related requirement.
  • Knowingly using, accepting or receiving any false document to satisfy any immigration-related requirement.
  • Discriminating in hiring or firing against a citizen or an intending citizen based on national origin or citizenship status.
  • Intentionally requiring an employee to present any specific document or combination of documents for Form I-9 purposes.
  • Intentionally requiring an employee to present more or different documents than are minimally required for the employment verification process.
  • Intentionally refusing to honor documents that reasonably appear to be genuine.

Failure to comply with these requirements may result in both civil and criminal liability with the imposition of substantial fines. Particularly for smaller companies, large fines and penalties could detrimentally impact current and possibly future business operations.

During the last few years, ICE worksite investigations have sharply increased with I-9 compliance investigations, almost quadrupling. Now, more than ever, companies must be more vigilant in their I-9 record keeping than ever before.