Paperwork and Legal Employees
Farm Business Management Update, February - March 2009
By Bill Whittle (email@example.com), Extension Agent, Farm Business Management, Northwest District
The agriculture industry often has difficultly locating and retaining quality employees. The farm owner/manager along with other managerial duties usually is also the Human Resource Department and must handle the hiring of employees, and the associated paperwork. One piece of paperwork that is an absolute must for any business to properly complete and maintain is Form I-9 from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security. The Form I-9 verification process ensures that employees possess proper authorization to work in the US and that hiring practices do not unlawfully discriminate based on immigration status.
US employers are required by law to verify that all workers hired on or after November 6, 1986, regardless of immigration status, are authorized to work in the U.S. This is accomplished by completing and maintaining Form I-9 on each new employee hired after November 6, 1986. This includes citizens and non-citizens, full-time and part-time employees, minors, uncle and sister. Everyone! The length of hire does not matter, whether it is one day or 30 years. There are no exceptions for not having a properly completed I-9. The employer is the person responsible for ensuring that the Form I-9 is completed and retained for every individual hired.
Employers must use the most current version (as of 1/31/09 Rev. 06/05/07) of the I-9 when completing the form with new-hires. The latest version is available at http://www.uscis.gov/i-9. Employers are not required to update an I-9 on long-term employees just because the version changed. If a long-term employee quits or is terminated, then a new I-9 must be completed if rehired.
Form I-9 must be maintained in the employer’s possession. It should not be sent to the USCIS. However, the form must be available for inspection by authorized US government officials (e.g. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Labor (DOL), and Office of Special Counsel). An I-9 must be kept on each employee for three years after the date of hire or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is the latest date.
Form I-9 is a four page document. The first two pages are instructions, the 3rd page is the Eligibility Verification Form consisting of three sections that must be filled out and the 4th page is the List of Acceptable Documents.
Employers who hire or continue to employ individuals knowing they are not authorized to be employed in the US, or who fail to comply with employment authorization verification requirements may face civil and in some cases criminal penalties.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) website at http://www.uscis.gov offers complete information on the I-9, how to determining employee eligibility and use of the E-Verify system. Instructions for completing the I-9 are provided in great detail in the Handbook for Employers: M-274 (http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/m-274.pdf).
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