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What is a Form I-9?

A Form I-9 is is the Employment Eligibility Verification form. It is a required form from employers who hire any individuals and demonstrates that the employer obtained proof of eligibility from a worker when they where hired. The worker actually has three days from the date of hire to present the information required by the I-9.

The I-9 form protects businesses from litigation and government enforcement for hiring a person who is not legally able to work in the United States. If a business goes through the I-9 process and they are defrauded by a worker who presented false documents or credentials, the business is not liable for this fraud if a law enforcement agency or other entity discovers that the worker is not eligible.

To protect itself, a business usually has the right to terminate a worker who has not provided the required documentation within three business days. The worker has a right to show a receipt for replacement documents, though, in lieu of meeting the three-day deadline. For example, a worker might have lost a Social Security card or other document and be in the process of replacing the document.

To avoid a discrimination suit, an employer does have to apply the three-day rule across the board. He or she cannot fire people whom they might suspect of being ineligible because of the three-day rule and then allow other workers who have not produced the right documents to stay on.

An employer as a small burden of responsibility to exam the documents presented for authenticity. No one expects a business to be an expert in document authenticity, but they must review the documents to ensure that they are related to the person in question.

Understanding your rights and responsibilities as a business owner helps you protect yourself legally. Working with an experienced business litigator can help you avoid employment, vendor, and customer lawsuits.

Source: FindLaw, "Immigration and Employment Eligibility FAQ," accessed Nov. 06, 2015

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