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Your level of I-9 knowledge can affect your compliance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986.  This federal regulation forbids employers from knowingly hiring individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States.

Penalties for non-compliance, like knowingly and continuing to employ violations, range from $375 to $16,000 per violation with repeat offenders receiving penalties at the higher end.  Penalties for substantive violations, which includes failing to produce a Form I-9, range from $110 to $1,100 per violation.

Take this short quiz to see how your Form I-9 knowledge stacks up.

Q. I only have 4 employees. Am I required to comply with IRCA?

A. All U.S. employers must have a Form I-9 on file for all current employees.

Q. Are there any exceptions to obtaining a Form I-9 from workers?

A. You are not required to complete Form I-9 for casual domestic service employees working in a private household when work is sporadic, irregular or intermittent; independent contractors; or employees working outside the United States.

Q. Must I complete the Form I-9 in a certain time frame?

A. Yes. You must complete the form no later than 3 business days after the employees begins work for pay.

Q. Am I required to keep copies of documentation employees submit to complete Form I-9?

A. Employers can choose whether to keep copies of documentation. If you choose to keep copies, you must do so for all employees, regardless of national origin or citizenship status.  Employers who participate in E-Verify may have different requirements.

Q. May I accept a photocopy of a document presented by an employee?

A. No. Employees must present original documents.  The only exception is that your employee may present a certified copy of a birth certificate.

Q. May I specify which documents I will accept for verification?

A. No. The employee may choose which document(s) he or she wants to present from the Lists of Acceptable Documents.

The stakes are high, so compliance is imperative.  Seek advice from an experienced HR professional or legal counsel.  Resources are also available at

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