April 2, 2019

Do’s & Don’ts Of Employment Eligibility

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

Like it or not, the U.S. government has put employers in the position of ensuring people who are working in the U.S. are doing so legally. What does this mean for dairy farmers? Paperwork, confusion and frustration. Kevin Paul, attorney and owner of Range Law shares the answers to top questions about employment eligibility verification.

Who needs an I-9?

Paul: Every single employee that works for you that was hired after Nov. 6, 1986, so virtually everybody that you employ is going to need an I-9. Contractors don’t need an I-9, so one easy way to think of it is if they get a W-2, they need an I-9.

How long do you have to keep I-9s?

Paul: You have to keep your I-9s the whole time that somebody works for you. Then when they leave, you have to keep them three years from the date you hired them, or one year from the date that they left employment, whichever date is later. The day that somebody leaves your employment, figure out what date you can shred their I-9 and write it on top.

Can I choose which identifying documents I’m willing to accept?

Paul: Nope. The employee, the person that’s coming to work for you gets to decide which of those documents to present. You can’t have a
rule that says, I don’t want to mess with all these other things, I just want a driver’s license or social security card. As long as it fits under one of those three categories, you have to accept it.

Should I just use e-verify to avoid dealing with documents?

Paul: No. We suggest that you be very careful about enrolling in e-verify. First of all, you have to enter into this contract with the government. Second, it’s another compliance requirement. You have to do it for everybody who comes to work for you and at the right time. Also, it’s proven not to be failsafe and it doesn’t replace the I-9. Right now, we don’t have to do this under the law in most states.

What should I do if ICE shows up on my farm? 

Paul: There are two ways ICE will interact with you. One is called a notice of inspection. You have three calendar days to produce to an
auditor, the originals of those I-9 forms. You might also get an ICE subpoena. These are generally delivered in person by an ICE agent and require I-9s and other documents within three calendar days. Generally payroll tax information is included. If that happens to you, we recommend you get some help.

For instructions on how to audit your I-9s, visit