Form I-9 Compliance Tips

Form I-9 Compliance Tips

Early this year, a staffing company was fined over one and a half million dollars because they were not complying with I-9 rules. This came after a nearly two-year investigation uncovered numerous serious violations pertaining to I-9 compliance. While this case may not be the norm, the department of Homeland Security has increased I-9 fines, ranging from $252 to $2,508 per I-9 Form. Now is a perfect time for employers to review their I-9 compliance practices, especially considering the increased penalties.

About the I-9

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires employers to hire only individuals who may legally work in the United States. To comply with the law, employers must verify the identity and employment authorization of everyone they hire by completing and retaining the Employment Eligibility Verification form (Form I-9).

Best Practices

Training

Training individuals responsible for an organization’s Form I-9 process is critical for complying with federal requirements and reducing fines, penalties, and audit risks. Many organizations assign an HR professional as their dedicated Form I-9 expert to oversee Form I-9 operations, train others and answer questions. Employers must ensure proper training for employees involved in the Form I-9 process. Training should cover the following areas:

  • Completing Form I-9
  • Maintaining completed forms
  • Storing completed forms
  • Correcting errors
  • Reverifying expired employee documents or documents for rehires
  • Purging old forms
  • Conducting internal audits
  • Preparing for government audits

Remember that ongoing training will be necessary to address updated guidance from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and other federal agencies, as well as Form I-9 changes. Employers can take advantage of USCIS’s free employer training.

Internal Audits

Internal audits of completed I-9 forms can help employers comply with federal requirements. While internal audits help to correct errors, many employers rely on audits to identify common mistakes and issues in their Form I-9 operations. Learning from past mistakes can provide employers with vital information to retrain staff, refine their Form I-9 operations and take other actions to avoid similar errors in the future. Audits can also help organizations discover if current employees have not completed a Form I-9 and whether completed forms contain errors. Both USCIS’s Handbook for Employers and I-9 Central provide resources for employers conducting internal audits.

Reverify Employment Authorizations

Employers must reverify an employee’s employment authorization on or before the expiration date provided in Section 1 of Form I-9. When employees initially complete the Form, employers frequently fail to record and track the expiration dates of their employees’ employment authorization documents. As a result, many employers do not reverify their employees’ work authorization or fail to do so on time. Suppose employers fail to reverify an employee’s work authorization document. In that case, they may be subject to penalties and fines for knowingly employing an individual who is not authorized to work in the United States.

Employers must also remember that they are only permitted to reverify an employee’s employment eligibility under limited circumstances. Doing so outside of those circumstances can result in expensive document abuse violations. Additionally, in some cases, reverification is not required or is subject to special rules. These complicated laws are why employers should assign a dedicated individual to oversee their Form I-9 operations and establish a reverification process.

Making Corrections

It’s common for completed I-9 forms to contain errors or missing information. These are often noticed during an audit and should be corrected immediately, but employers should not conceal any changes to Form I-9, including erasing text or whiting it out.

Guidelines for correction

  • Draw a line through the incorrect information
  • Initial and date the correction with the current date
  • Attach a memorandum outlining why the information needed correcting or was missing
  • For multiple errors in a section, redo the section on a new Form I-9 and attach it to the initially completed Form.

Monitor Form I-9 Changes or Updates

Employers are responsible for monitoring and complying with any changes to Form I-9 rules and procedures. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security updates Form I-9 every few years, and employers must use the most recent version. On October 11, 2022, DHS published instructions for employers to continue using the current I-9 Form when hiring new employees until a new version of the form is published. Likewise, as of September 26, 2022, the USCIS extended the validity of Permanent Resident Cards from 12 months to 24 months for lawful permanent residents who file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.

The information contained in this article is provided as general guidance and may be affected by changes in law or regulation. This article is not intended to replace or substitute for accounting or other professional advice. Please consult a CBIZ professional. This information is provided as-is with no warranties of any kind. CBIZ shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever in connection with its use and assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein. 

Form I-9 Compliance Tipshttps://www.cbiz.com/Portals/0/Images/CBIZ_HCM_article_form_I-9-1.png?ver=D8ZgNOpmMw7wV0L2OnPf0g%3d%3dhttps://www.cbiz.com/Portals/0/Images/CBIZ_HCM_form_I-9.png?ver=u963DprRjlpfhrW2WdWniw%3d%3dNow is a perfect time to review their I-9 compliance practices, especially considering the increased penalties and anticipated changes to the I-9 Form. 2022-10-10T16:00:00-05:00Employers, ensure your I-9 compliance to avoid hefty fines. Learn best practices for training, internal audits, and error correction. Stay updated on I-9 rules.Employee ManagementPayroll ServicesYes