Form I-9 Compliance
Form I-9 is one of the most important documents for every employer. It verifies the identity and the employment eligibility of every person working for your company, citizen or noncitizen. In simpler terms, it proves that every employee in your company can legally work in the US.
You must complete the I-9 form for each employee within three days of their hire date. You must then keep their records on file for three years after the date of hire or a year after their termination, whichever is later.
Employees must provide certain documents to complete their forms. These documents are divided into three categories: List A, List B, and List C.
- List A includes passports (US and foreign), Permanent Resident Card (also known as “green card”), or Alien Registration Receipt Card, and Employment Authorization Document Card.
- List B includes documents that only establish identity. These are, among others, driver’s license, school ID with a photograph, voter registration card, and U.S. military card or draft record. Employees who choose to present List B documents must accompany them with a document from List C as well.
- List C documents are, among others, social security cards, birth certificates, and Citizen ID cards. The employee must present the original pieces of documentation, not a copy.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the governing body in charge of form I-9 compliance audits, has allowed for certain flexibility in form I-9 compliance to let employees and employers comply with the health safety guidelines. These changes were initially announced on March 20th, 2020 as temporary policies. Many of these policies are still in place; however, changes have been made.
As of the time of writing this article in July 2021, you can still forgo the physical inspection requirements of form I-9 compliance in some instances. This means that the employee doesn’t have to present their documents in person; they can submit them electronically. You can allow them to do so if the employee was hired on or after April 1st, 2021, and they work remotely on an exclusive basis. However, if they start to take on on-site tasks on a consistent and predictable basis, this exemption no longer applies.
Once you have completed the I-9 forms for your employees, you must perform regular internal audits. This is to catch and correct errors, most commonly missing or incorrect information. Such a mistake can result in your company failing to meet form I-9 compliance requirements, which, in turn, can result in fines and penalties.
Form I-9 compliance is in place to make sure you only hire people who can legally work in the United States. With the government placing this burden on employers across the country, they’ve also provided some help.
The DHS launched the web service E-Verify in 1996. This allows you to access a database kept by the federal government. After completing every employee’s form I-9, you can enter the information on the form into the E-Verify system. It then compares that information against millions of government records and returns a result. If there are any inconsistencies between the information your employee provided and what’s in government records, you will be notified immediately. In that case, you should suspend the employee until the issue is resolved.
In 2007, E-Verify launched a new feature in which you can upload the photos of your employees and see if their image comes up anywhere in the government database. This way, you can find out if they have ever been arrested and taken a mugshot; or if their image comes up under a different name than they’ve given to you.
I-9Compliance.com lets you manage your I-9 forms entirely electronically, the site even enables you to use a paperless signing system.
An electronic I-9 form database makes searching and keeping track a lot easier, thus simplifying the entire process of keeping up with the latest form I-9 compliance rules and regulations.