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I-9 Compliance Management

Human Resources consultants agree I-9 requirements can be confusing, and it's easy for businesses to make a mistake on an I-9 form.  Are you compliant with I-9 requirements and are you using the most current form? Now is the best time to do an I-9 audit and avoid costly fines... .

HR consultant testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives' Small Business Committee on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) stated, "The penalty for even a single mistake on the I-9 ranges from $216 to $2,126 per form," according to a recent SHRM article. See USCIS.gov for a list of penalties for errors.

New I-9 forms are typically announced in the last quarter of the year and available in the first quarter of the year, so be sure you are using the correct form. Get the latest form on USCIS.gov website and a Handbook for Employers, Guidance for Completing the I-9 form. Be sure to review the guide to ensure you are not violating procedure through requesting the information from the employee or filling out the form.

Now, there are three ways for users to complete the Form I-9:
  • Print it and fill it out manually, pen to paper.
  • Fill it out electronically, then print and sign it. Take note that using the online "smart" version of the form does not qualify as a compliant electronic I-9. If the online fillable version is used, it must be printed and signed pen to paper.
  • Use an electronic I-9 vendor.
Employers using electronic I-9 systems should not experience any direct impact with this form change. Electronic systems should simply update the form.  If relying on a vendor, employers should compare the electronic product and the fields and requirements of the new I-9 version to ensure the vendor is collecting all the necessary information, according to immigration attorneys.

Completing the I-9: Top 10 do's and don'ts

The I-9 form may have changed, but busnesses responsibilities for seeing that it's properly filled out haven't. Sidestep potential legal troubles by following these I-9 do's and don'ts:

1. Do require all new hires to complete and sign Section 1 on their first day of work.

2. Don't ask an applicant to complete an I-9 prior to extending a job offer. Information on the I-9 could be used as a weapon in a discrimination lawsuit if the applicant is not hired.

3. Do review the employee's documents to make sure they are on the Form I-9's list of acceptable documents and to make sure they appear genuine.

4. Don't ask the employee for any particular documents or more documents than required by the I-9. The employee chooses the documents, not you.

5. Do establish a consistent procedure for completing I-9s and educate your hiring managers.

6. Don't consider the expiration date of I-9 documentation when making hiring, promotion or firing decisions.

7. Do make and retain copies of all I-9 documentation employees provide. These documents will come in handy in the event of an audit.

8. Don't forget to keep a tickler file to follow up on expiring documents. Notify employees of the need to re-verify documentation 90 days before the current documents expire. Consider using electronic I-9 service help with monitoring expiration.

9. Do keep the Form I-9 and copies of an employee's documents for three years after the date of hire or one year after termination, whichever comes later.

10. Don't put the Form I-9 in an employee's personnel file. To protect your company against discrimination claims, keep the I-9 and supporting documentation in a separate file.

11. Be sure to use E-verify if you are working in a state that requires it.  

E-Verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility. 

Employers can voluntarily enroll in states where it is not required. They can also employ a third party to do the E-verifications on their behalf. See guide on detailed steps for using the program and what do when your employee's verification doesn't go through initially.

Are you certain that you have met I-9 requirements to the letter of the law? If you have made mistakes, you must correct them according to government standards. To be certain that you are compliant and all errors are executed correctly, schedule your I-9 Compliance Assessment Audit today and avoid costly fines.


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