What are the consequences for employers who fail to properly complete and retain I-9 forms in California?


in California are required to properly complete and retain I-9 forms for all employees hired after November 6, 198

Failure to comply with these requirements can result in serious consequences for employers. The consequences can include civil penalties, fines, and even criminal charges.

Civil Penalties

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for enforcing I-9 compliance. If an employer fails to properly complete and retain I-9 forms, they may face civil penalties. These penalties can range from $230 to $2,292 per violation, depending on the severity of the violation. Multiple violations can quickly add up to significant fines.


In addition to civil penalties, employers who fail to comply with I-9 requirements may also face fines imposed by the California Labor Commissioner’s Office. These fines can range from $2,000 to $10,000 for each violation. The amount of the fine depends on various factors, including the employer’s size, the seriousness of the violation, and the employer’s history of previous violations.

Criminal Charges

In some cases, employers who knowingly and willingly engage in fraudulent practices related to I-9 forms may face criminal charges. This can include charges of document fraud, identity theft, or harboring unauthorized workers. If convicted, employers can face imprisonment, fines, or both.

Business Disruption

Non-compliance with I-9 requirements can also lead to business disruption. ICE may conduct audits or investigations to ensure compliance, which can be time-consuming and costly for employers. These audits can disrupt normal business operations, diverting resources and attention away from core activities.

Reputational Damage

Failing to properly complete and retain I-9 forms can also result in reputational damage for employers. News of non-compliance can spread quickly, damaging the employer’s reputation and potentially leading to a loss of customers, partners, or investors.

To avoid these consequences, employers should ensure they understand and comply with all I-9 requirements. This includes properly completing and retaining I-9 forms for all employees, verifying their identity and work authorization documents, and keeping accurate records. Regular internal audits can help identify and rectify any compliance issues before they escalate.

  • July 7, 2023