• Department of Homeland Security Partially Waives Employment Documentation Requirements
  • October 3, 2005 | Author: Michael S. Mizell
  • Law Firm: Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP - Nashville Office
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that, for a limited period of time, it will not seek sanctions against employers who hire employees who are presently unable to provide proper eligibility documentation as a result of Hurricane Katrina. This partial waiver applies to individuals evacuated or displaced as a result of Hurricane Katrina who are otherwise eligible for employment.

    Employers are required to complete and retain Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) Forms for all new employees. DHS regulations require employers to verify employment eligibility and establish identity by reviewing original documents presented by the employee at the start of employment. DHS recognizes that many of the individuals affected by Hurricane Katrina "lack these documents as a result of being evacuated from their homes, loss or damage to personal items and records, and ongoing displacement in shelters and temporary housing." Further compounding the situation is the fact that, as a result of hurricane related damage to government offices, many hurricane victims will be unable to apply for or receive new documents for at least the near future.

    Based on these unusual circumstances, for the next 45 days DHS will refrain from initiating employer sanction enforcement actions for civil violations relating to individuals who are currently unable to provide identity and eligibility documents as a result of the hurricane. It is important to note that employers must still complete the Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) Form as thoroughly as possible. Employers should also document the employee's file with a notation that the normally required employment eligibility documentation is not available due to the events involving Hurricane Katrina. Upon the expiration of this temporary 45 day policy, DHS has indicated that it will review the situation and issue additional guidance.