Back to basics: Form I-9 and E-Verify

IF YOU’RE THE OWNER or manager of a business with employees, you probably already know a little about federal employment law. That would be the law that requires companies to employ only those individuals who may legally work in the United States — either U.S. citizens or foreign citizens who have the necessary authorization.

One would think that this law has been around forever, but actually it’s just 29 years old. It came out of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986.

Let’s assume for the rest of this column that you’re brand new to business ownership or thinking about starting a business that will require more than just you as an employee. What do you need to know, in addition to Rule No. 1 above, about hiring people?

You need to know about Form I-9, another result of the IRCA. This form, which is used to verify an individual’s identity and employment authorization, must be completed for each person on the payroll, unless, in rare cases, the employee is exempt. This form isn’t filed with any federal agency, but it does have to be kept on file by the employer for a certain length of time, and it must be available for inspection by federal authorities.

Also, you can know that the government has streamlined the means to determine an individual’s status for employment. It came up with E-Verify, an Internet-based system that compares information on a Form I-9 to government records to confirm that someone is authorized to work in the United States. Using E-Verify, an employer can learn fairly quickly whether someone newly hired or about to be hired actually is eligible, by federal standards, for employment.

Much more about E-Verify and Form I-9 can be found online at



BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing company with offices in Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, and Arcadia. A citrus grower who served in the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges and concerns of today’s farmer.

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