In July of last year, Panda Express, the largest Chinese fast food chain in the nation was fined $400,000 by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Why? For violating Form I-9 compliance! This form is important for all companies in the United States, which means it’s related to every single one of us working in the United States!

What is Form I-9?

Form I-9 is also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification form. This form was introduced as a part of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act to verify employees’ legal working statuses, and continues to go through updates ever since then. Regardless of the employee’s citizenship status (citizen, green card, work visa, etc.), this form applies to all employees.

The first section of the I-9, Section 1, must be completed by the end of the employee’s first day of hire. The employer must complete Section 2 of the I-9 within the employee’s first three working days. In addition to completion of the forms, USCIS also has a series of regulations that needs to be followed such as proper completion, verification, and record keeping on file, so employers and HR managers need to be extra careful to avoid making careless mistakes and getting fined.

Since many businesses are not familiar with the I-9 regulations, they end up facing large fines. Forgetting to fill out certain sections of the form, filling the form out incorrectly, requesting more documents than necessary, identity fraud, discrimination based on identity, are all just a couple of many common issues. Panda Express was fined $400,000 due to failure to comply with the Form I-9 regulations.

Two years ago, a Chinese construction company was fined $330,000 because they failed to fill out Form I-9 for nearly 100 employees. Earlier this year, ICE issued audit notices to more than 122 businesses in the Greater Los Angeles Area, and 77 business in Northern California—many of which are owned by Asian business owners.

The bigger your company is, the more prone you are to larger fines

During the audits performed by ICE, every missed form for an employee or every mistake in the form builds up and increases the total fine the company will end up paying. The fines can range from $220 to $2,191. Hiring illegal individuals can result in fines up to $19,242. Fines can also be imposed upon your company based on your company’s size, attitude regarding the corrections to be made, past records, and more. A small mistake may seem like nothing, but if the company is big, then the mistakes can add up and result in a large fine! (Click here for more information on I-9 violation fees from the official U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.)

Does your business comply with the newest changes and regulations to Form I-9?

The most updated version of the Form I-9 was in July 2017. If you check the lower left corner of your form and it says “2016” instead of “07/17/17 N”, then it’s most likely outdated, which means you need to update it before you get fined! Many business owners might be wondering…

  • I just found out the form I’m using is expired… what am I supposed to do now?
  • This is our first time filling out the Form I-9, how do I fill it out?
  • What should I make sure to pay attention to when filling out the Form I-9?
  • What are some common mistakes employers make?
  • How do I use E-Verify?
  • If ICE comes to my workplace, what do I do?

Get your concerns addressed and your questions answered! Register now for the “Form I-9 and E-Verify Training Seminar”  on Thursday, May 17 at 2:00PM, located at KCAL’s Hacienda Heights headquarters. KCAL has invited a representative from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Yu-Ting Adler, a Management and Program Analyst, to speak at the seminar. Main topics include common errors in the latest Form I-9, demonstration of E-Verify, how to accurately complete Form I-9, document examination tips, and many more.

The seminar will be conducted in Chinese and is open to employers, senior executives, and managers. Spots are limited so sign up as soon as possible!