The federal government launched a high-profile raid last month of 21 Wal-Mart stores, resulting in more than 250 arrests of undocumented workers and a heap of trouble for the company.
Our advice: Don't read too much into it. This doesn't foreshadow a great crackdown on U.S. employers. Since 9/11, the feds have conducted fewer workplace immigration checks because agents are focused more on security-related sites like airports.
Still, you shouldn't slack off your duty of completing I-9s (Employment Eligibility Verification Forms) for each new hire. Reason: It only takes one complaint to prompt an inspection.
To avoid trouble, follow these I-9 rules:
1. Do require all new hires to complete and sign Section 1 on their first day of work.
2. Don't ask applicants to complete an I-9 prior to extending a job offer.
3. Do review the employee's documents to make sure they're on the I-9's list of acceptable documents. Make sure they appear genuine. (For a list, see www.uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/i-9.htm.)
4. Don't ask the employee for any particular documents or more documents than required by the I-9. The employee chooses the documents, not you.
5. Do establish a consistent procedure for completing I-9s.
6. Don't consider the expiration date of I-9 documents (green cards, etc.) when making hiring or firing decisions.
7. Do make and retain copies of all I-9 documentation provided. You're not required, but it's a smart move.
8. Don't forget to keep a tickler file to follow up on expiring documents. You only need to reverify I-9 documents with an expiration date for the employee's work authorization, like green cards.
9. Do keep I-9s and copies of documents for three years after the employee's date of hire or one year after his or her termination, whichever comes later.
10. Don't put Form I-9 in an employee's personnel file. To protect your company against discrimination claims, keep the I-9 and supporting documentation in a separate file.