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Are Employers Required by Law to Verify Candidates’ Employment Eligibility?

How critical is Form I-9 to you? 

It’s one of the most important forms that both employers and employees must complete, as it verifies a person’s eligibility to work legally in the United States. The completion of Form I-9 is mandatory for employers, regardless of their size, and it applies to both U.S. citizen and non-citizen new hires. 

More on Form I-9

Requirements related to Form I-9 stem from the Immigration Reform and Control Act (ICRA) of 1986. ICRA prohibits employers from hiring anyone in the U.S. while knowing they are not authorized for such employment. Employers also cannot: 

  • Continue to employ a worker once they know this required authorization is lacking. 
  • Hire anyone without first verifying their identity and employment authorization via Form I-9. 

Form I-9 has three parts: 

  • The first section gathers employee information, including full name, Social Security number, date of birth, and more. Employees are required to sign it to attest that all information is true – or face a perjury penalty. 
  • The second section requires employees to provide appropriate identification documents. 
  • The third section is not always needed but can be completed for a change of name, renewal of expiring work authorization, or rehire. 

Form I-9 and E-Verification 

E-Verify is a web-based system that allows employers to confirm their employees’ eligibility to work in the U.S. Enrollment is voluntary; however, employers with federal contracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause are required to participate. You also may be required to take part in E-Verify if: 

  • Your state mandates its use for business licensing purposes. 
  • A legal ruling dictates. 

E-Verify is available in all 50 states, as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rice, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana. It serves as a solid means to electronically confirm employment eligibility. 

The Cost of Non-Compliance 

As an employer, you have certain responsibilities under immigration law as you hire new employees. 

You must: 

  • Verify the identity and employment authorization of every person hired after November 6, 1986. 
  • Complete and retain Form I-9s for every employee who is required to complete and submit the form. 

You may not: 

  • Discriminate against any employee on the basis of national origin, citizenship, or immigration status. 
  • Request more or different documents to verify employment eligibility, reject reasonably genuine-looking documents, or select certain documents over others. 
  • Retaliate against anyone because they file charges with the Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER) Section, cooperate with an IER investigation, or contest a related action. 

If you are in violation, you may be subject to civil fines or criminal penalties, debarment from government contracts, or court orders requiring the hiring or payment of back pay to any individuals discriminated against.  

To eliminate any doubt or question about pre-employment screenings or drug testing prospective hires, consider partnering with Chane Solutions. We’re a recognized nationwide leader in both these areas – and we’ll help ensure that your company maintains a fully safe working environment while minimizing costs and staying 100% compliant. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more. 


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