Businesses face fines for failing to comply with federal verification rules for employees

By John McPhaul

Hundreds of medium-sized businesses and corporations in Puerto Rico risk being fined up to $1,000 for failing to comply with the federal requirement that forms I-9 and E-Verify be completed for each employee, certified public accountant (CPA) Virgilio Vega said Monday.

Both forms are used to verify, under United States law, the identity and employment authorization of each new employee hired.

“An employee is defined as any person who performs work or offers services, who receives remuneration or salary, within the United States, including Puerto Rico,” Vega said in a written statement.

“Even recruiters, associations, employers, or farm labor contractors are considered employees so they must fill out the forms,” he added.

To meet the federal requirement, employers must print the I-9 form and the employee must complete it on or before the first day of employment. It is the responsibility of both the employer and the employee to complete the three sections that make up the document and include the requested documents for identity verification and employment authorization.

Offering false information at the time of filling out the form could lead to prosecution.

“If the employer participates in the E Verify program, he will be able to electronically verify the identity and employment eligibility of the employees,” Vega said. “This web-based system allows the information provided by the employee on the I-9 form to be electronically compared with other records available from the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.”

“E Verify is voluntary; however, it is necessary for employers to know that those federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the E-Verify Federal Procurement Regulations clause are required to enroll in the program as a condition for federal contracting,” the CPA said.

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