Completing Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form) for foreign nationals is a delicate process. Human resource professionals, managers, and business owners must be aware of the rules and regulations surrounding the Form I-9 process to avoid civil and criminal penalties. These penalties can range from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars depending on the nature and number of the violations. The costs in litigating these matters also raise expenses incurred by the company.
Generally, an employer must reverify employment authorization documents no later than the date the document expires. Reverification is done on Section 3 of Form I-9. Some documents should never be reverified, for example, an expired U.S. passport or a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551). However, this does not mean that permanent resident employees are never subject to reverification. Permanent resident employees may choose which documents to submit to the employer for I-9 purposes. It is not necessary for a permanent resident to present their Permanent Resident Card to their employer. For example, a permanent resident may present their foreign passport with a temporary I-551 stamp.
While a Permanent Resident Card itself should not be reverified, the “Handbook for Employers” published by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services highlights some instances in which a permanent resident employee’s documents must be reverified. The first scenario is if an employee presents an expired Permanent Resident Card along with a Form I-797, Notice of Action, stating that the card is valid for another year. At the end of that one year period, the employer must reverify that employee’s documents. Another instance in which a permanent resident employee is subject to reverification is if the employee presents their foreign passport with an I-551 stamp. The I-551 stamp may contain an expiration date or the date may be blank. In either case, the employer must reverify when the stamp expires, or one year after the issuance date of the stamp if the stamp issued does not contain an expiration date. Lastly, if an employee presents an I-94 along with an unexpired I-551 stamp the employee must present his or her Permanent Resident Card to the employer no later than the date the I-551 stamp expires, or one year after the stamp was issued if it does not contain an expiration date.
Furthermore, an employer who erroneously reverifies a Permanent Resident Card would not be subject to specific penalties from the government so long as there is no evidence of discriminatory practices. Nevertheless, an employer should not reverify the Permanent Resident Card presented by an employee but must reverify certain other documents presented by permanent resident employees as discussed above. Employers must be careful in understanding when to reverify documents submitted by Permanent Residents in connection to Form I-9. Severe penalties can be imposed on employers for Form I-9 violations. These penalties can not only destroy a company’s reputation but they can also lead to a financial downfall from which the company cannot recover. For additional information regarding Form I-9 please refer to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ “Handbook for Employers.”