Follow the Rules: I-9 Work Authorizations and Prevailing Wages

Follow the Rules: I-9 Work Authorizations and Prevailing Wages

January 14, 2020


There are reports of increasing audits and federal officials looking for reasons to keep immigrants out. What’s an employer to do? For starters: follow the rules. Things are tough enough without inadvertently providing “ammo” to agencies to shoot down your applications and boot out your workers.

As recently reported, for example, there has been a noticeable surge in audits of employers’ I-9 work authorization verification forms. Employers who do their due diligence can avoid mistakes and audit troubles, and consequent penalties. Employers should also be sure to meet wage requirements. Those who make sure all of their i’s are dotted and t’s crossed can have more peace of mind even with the prospect of a challenge or an audit, especially these days.

It’s important to follow the rules: the employee must complete the first part of the I-9 form upon hire; the employer must complete Part 2 within three days of hire. A big stumbling block for employers is requiring more or different documents than those listed on the I-9, or treating employees differently based on perceived national origin. These are major no-nos and employers continue to incur penalties for them. It’s crucial to treat all employees the same during the I-9 process, and not to require any documentation other than as specified in the form’s instructions.

To prevent problems, employers may also want to consider conducting a self-audit; checking that hiring dates on the I-9 match payroll and other records; re-verifying employees whose immigration status or visas may have expired, or who have been rehired; and consult with an immigration attorney for help in setting up procedures and advice in specific situations.

With respect to ensuring that wages being paid meet federal requirements, the Department of Labor (DOL) notes that wage determinations (WDs) fall under two categories: Davis-Bacon Act (DBA) WDs and Service Contract Act (SCA) WDs. The DBA applies to contracts involving the construction, alteration, and/or repair (including painting or decorating) of public buildings or public works. These contracts must specify the minimum wages and fringe benefits to be paid to laborers and mechanics employed under the contract, DOL notes. The Service Contract Act (SCA) applies to federal and District of Columbia contracts that provide services. It establishes standards for wage rates and safety and health protections for employees performing work on covered contracts.

The applicable DBA and SCA wage determinations required for each contract action can be found in SAM ( Search by wage determination (WD) number at, or use the filters to narrow down your results by geographic location. Each wage determination reflects current data provided by DOL. In the future, DOL says you will be able to sign up to follow wage determinations as they are updated.

The short story: Do your homework, fulfill the basic requirements, and follow the rules to the letter to minimize your chances of incurring problems down the line.


2020-01-14T22:02:42-08:00 January 14th, 2020|

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