Avoid Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification (EEV) mistakes by carefully following all of the applicable rules, regulations and laws. The Department of Homeland Security is cracking down on errors and mistakes in order to prevent fraud. No business wants to be visited by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials investigating violations of American law - so be prudent in faithfully following the procedures.
Imprisonment and/or Fines for Fraud
The United States requires employers to verify the eligibility of people to work in this country. This is a legal requirement during all economic times, good and bad. The form clearly warns businesses that penalties include imprisonment and/or fines for "false statements" or "falsified documents."
ICE will audit a company when it notices a pattern of errors and mistakes on its forms. Typos, misspellings and minor mistakes are considered "technical" or "procedural." Major mistakes with legal ramifications - like omitted signatures - are "substantive."
Who Must Fill Out this Form?
The EEV form states that it must "... be completed and signed by employee at the time employment begins." All new seasonal, temporary and permanent workers (not unpaid interns) must fill out this form and provide valid original identification documents. It doesn't matter how desperate a company is to fill a position, these American laws must be followed.
Most Common Mistakes
Many mistakes can occur while filling out the form. These are the most common mistakes in filling out the EEV form:
- Corrections not initialed and dated
- Failure to mark boxes for citizenship, residency or alien status
- First date of work not listed
- Incomplete information
- Information doesn't match
- Missing signatures
- Not verifying expiration date of documents
- Proper number and type of documents
- Wrong or missing dates
Remember the "Three-Day Rule!" This is an important guide concerning how long a company has to complete the EEV form. Once you have offered the job to the applicant and s/he has accepted, then you must have the employee fill out Section 1 of this form to check citizenship and immigration status on the first day of paid work.
The employer must complete Section 2 no later than the third business day of paid work. This procedure must be followed even if the employee is hired for a very short amount of time. This is the essence of the "Three-Day Rule."
Section 1 must be filled out by the employee on the first day of paid work. This includes name, address, birth date, social security number, status boxes and signature line for name and date.
The employer must fill out Section 2 showing that the identification documents were physically reviewed and verified. This includes title, issuing authority and expiration date for the documents. The business owner must sign and date this section.
Section 3 is entitled "Updating and Reverification" — this is for rehires. It includes areas for new name, rehire date and if grant of work authorization has expired. The employer must sign and date this section.
List of Acceptable Documents
The United States government requires original documents, not photocopies. These documents are used for establishing identity for work authorization. Employer must physically examine documentation.
This EEV form is to "document that each new employee (both citizen and noncitizen) hired after November 6, 1986, is authorized to work in the United States." The form must be filled out "no later than the time of hire...." The time of hire is the first paid work day.
E-Verify for Faster Online Processing
E-Verify is a free, Internet-based confirmation system managed by the Department of Homeland Security, which requires use of a Social Security Number (SSN). All employees (including temps) receiving compensation, must be entered into this system.
This online system completes checks within minutes. It cannot be used to check expired employment authorization; it is only for new employees. It has photo matching to protect against falsified identification documents.
The "Self Check" option enables U.S. employees to obtain work authorization before beginning a new job. Employers cannot require employees to use the Self Check option.
This online system does not replace the I-9 EEV form. The EEV form must still be completed and stored in paper, electronic or microfilm/microfiche format.
E-Verify is mandated in a couple of states. Businesses can enroll at "www.USCIS.gov."
How Long Must I hold these Forms?
Employers must properly complete, maintain, track and update work information. The expiration date on identification documents should be closely monitored. While it is illegal to "refuse to hire an individual because the documents have a future expiration date," these documents must be updated when the expiration date arrives. It is wise to automate this process because tracking the expiration date for a large number of people can be time-consuming.
The EEV form must be held for a minimum of three years. Hire and termination dates should be recorded. A business might be audited by ICE, thus it is important that they follow proper document maintenance, handling and storage procedures.
Avoid Mistakes by Being Diligent
Remember the "Three-Day Rule" — All paid employees must fill out the I-9 EEV form and this form must be completed within three business days of the first paid day of work.
Consistency is very important to ICE, so if you establish a pattern, continue it on all your paperwork. Employers should visit the government website (http://www.uscis.gov) to see the latest requirements and download forms. Carefully read the forms from top to bottom to avoid costly mistakes.
Download our quick guide titled Avoid Five I-9 Mistakes, including
- Tips from four prominent immigration attorneys in the United States
- News releases issued by government agencies about relevant legal settlements
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Handbook for Employers