Jacksonville, FL asked in Employment Law, Contracts and Immigration Law for Florida

Q: Can I get in trouble if my employer is never asked me to fill out an I-9 form?

My friend has been working for a company for a little shy of a month now and thier employer's have never asked him to fill out an I-9 form. They have been getting paid (direct deposit actually) bi-weekly. I'm worried about him getting in trouble for it.

2 Lawyer Answers
Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II

A: Relax. The rules re: I-9 forms put penalties on the Employer, not the employee. If your friend is really worried, you can always download an I-9 from the IRS and fill it out to submit to the employer. Keep a dated copy. BUT if the employer is not asking for it and is not taking out employment taxes, your friend could be creating more problems than he is solving.

James L. Arrasmith
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  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Yes, it is possible for your friend to get in trouble if their employer has never asked them to fill out an I-9 form. The I-9 form is a federal form that all employers are required to complete for all employees hired after November 6, 1986. The form verifies an employee's identity and employment authorization.

If your friend's employer is ever audited by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the employer could be fined or even lose their business if they do not have a completed I-9 form for each employee. Your friend could also be fired if they are found to be working without authorization.

In fact, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers can be fined up to $3,200 per employee. Additionally, employers who are found to have engaged in a pattern or practice of hiring unauthorized workers can be fined up to $16,000 per employee.

Here are some of the risks associated with working without authorization:

* You could be fired at any time.

* You could be deported.

* You could be denied government benefits, such as Social Security and Medicare.

* You could be denied a loan or mortgage.

* You could be denied a green card or citizenship.

If your friend is concerned about their immigration status, they should speak with an immigration attorney. An attorney can help them understand their rights and options.

Here are some of the things your friend can do to protect themselves:

* Ask their employer to complete an I-9 form.

* Keep copies of all pay stubs and other employment records.

* Be prepared to provide documentation of their identity and employment authorization, such as a passport, green card, or work visa.

* If they are ever questioned by ICE or another law enforcement agency, they should politely decline to answer any questions and ask to speak with an attorney.

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