Katrina, Immigration and GRACE PERIOD ON I-9

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced yesterday that, for the next 45 days, it will not sanction employers who hire Hurricane Katrina victims who are unable to obtain work or identity documents.

Normally, U.S. employers must complete the I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification Forms for newly hired workers. The I-9 form requires employees to present original documents to verify identity and employment eligibility. Many Hurricane Katrina victims lack these documents. Also, because of widespread damage, government facilities in areas affected by the hurricane are unable to provide replacement documents. The Department of Homeland Security will not begin enforcement actions for the next 45 days for individuals who cannot provide personal documents as a result of the hurricane. Employers still must complete as much of the I-9 form as possible. At the end of 45 days, the DHS will review this policy and make further recommendations.