Today is: Mar. 30, 2023
Call 1-866-US VISAS
Home > I-9 Laws > Form I-9 Overview

Form I-9 Overview

The basic I-9 or employment eligibility verification law is called IRCA (Immigration Reform and Control Act) and was enacted in 1986. It has two main requirements of employers:
(1) Hire only persons authorized to work in the United States, and
(2) Not discriminate on the basis of citizenship status or national origin.

IRCA is the United States' initial employment eligibility verification (EEV) program. IRCA was enacted to control unauthorized immigration to the United States by making employers verify employment eligibility of all employers. The philosophy behind IRCA is "if there is no work for undocumented foreign nationals then the economic incentive to illegally enter the U.S. no longer exists, and illegal immigration will stop".

Employer Sanctions Laws: Penalties Apply
Employers may be sanctioned for knowingly hiring workers who are not authorized to work, as well as for errors in Forms I-9 completion and related hiring practices. Penalties include civil fines and criminal penalties for individuals and the employing company, and imprisonment.

Responsible business management practices require that employers take Form I-9 employment eligibility verification compliance extremely seriously. The civil fines, individual criminal liabilities, more sophisticated government enforcement, meaningful threat of competitor RICO actions and the bramble bush of circumstantial evidence that establishes the employer knowingly hired an unauthorized employee must not be overlooked.

Introduction to Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification
Form I-9 requires employers to verify all employees' work authorization or employment eligibility. Employers must monitor that within three days of hire every new employee must complete a Form I-9 and produce documentation that establishes both proof of their identity and proof of their eligibility to work in the United States. Employers must be careful to properly complete, review, and retain a Form I-9 for each employee. The employer must be careful to retain its Forms I-9 for the period required by law, either in paper or in electronic format. If the employer chooses electronic retention, specific regulations apply.

Completing Form I-9

Form I-9 is a three-part document. Each Section of Form I-9 requires specific information.

Section 1: Employee Information and Verification The employee must complete Section 1 at the time of hire or when the employee begins work.

Section 2: Employer Review and Verification The employer must complete Section 2 within three business days of hire and certify that the employee's documents of identity and work authorization appear to be genuine and relate to the person. The I-9 regulations list the types of documents that may be used to verify that a new hire is authorized to work in the U.S. These documents fall into one of three categories:
LIST A Documents: Those that establish both the new hire's identity and employment eligibility.
LIST B Documents: Those that establish identity only.
LIST C Documents: Those that establish work eligibility only.

Section 3: Updating and Re-verification
The employer completes Section 3 when it is necessary to update or re-verify an employee's work authorization document(s). Employers must retain completed Forms I-9 for all employees for 3 years after the date they hire an employee, or 1 year after the date employment is terminated, whichever is later. These forms can be retained in paper, microfilm, microfiche, or electronically.

I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Compliance
Form I-9 employment eligibility verification compliance issues and associated unfair immigration related employment practices (UIREPs) necessitate that company executives, management, supervisors and key employees carefully and thoroughly comply with the Form I-9 or employer sanctions laws. It is negligent business management if the employer does maintain and regularly review its Forms I-9 policies and related employer sanctions law hiring practices.

Violations of Form I-9 employment eligibility verification employer sanctions laws involve hefty civil fines, per Form I-9 error. Violations of Form I-9 employment eligibility verification employer sanctions laws involve corporate and individual civil and criminal penalties. Form I-9 violations include imprisonment for executives, managers, supervisors and key employees. Violations of Form I-9 employment eligibility verification employer sanctions laws may result in asset forfeiture and debarrment from government programs. Unlawful I-9 employment eligibility verification compliance may result in felony criminal charges and prosecution for fraud, harboring illegal aliens, money laundering, aiding and abetting, and charges under Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO).

Every employer should implement written procedures and policies, provide regular training, and conduct regular internal I-9 audits and I-9 reviews to monitor its compliance with the employer sanctions laws comprising Forms I-9 employment eligibility verification and related hiring practices.

Gerald Goulder is an experienced North Carolina immigration lawyer with a nationwide practice. He is knowledgeable in employment eligibility verification and Form I-9 compliance and employer sanctions law. He assists business clients in reviewing their Forms I-9 documents and employment eligibility verification practices, developing Forms I-9 compliance policies, training all levels of company staff in Form I-9 employment eligibility verification compliance, and advising on and/or conducting internal I-9 compliance audits.


This is an advertisement. The Goulder Immigration Law Firm is the law office of Gerald Goulder and limits its practice predominantly to US immigration and naturalization law; and we do not claim expertise in the laws of states other than Nort Carolina. The information contained on this site is intended to educate members of the public generally and is not intended to provide solutions to individual problems. Readers are cautioned not to attempt to solve individual problems on the basis of information contained herein and are strongly advised to seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney regarding specific case situations. The information on this website may not be up to date and should not be relied on without the advice and representation of your attorney. The links to government agencies and other websites are provided as a convenience only and no warranty express or implied is made regarding the accuracy of information obtained from those websites.