When it comes to the hiring process, correctly completing the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) is one of the most crucial steps to get right. This process ensures that each new hire is legally eligible to work in the US.
Employers must complete this document with every worker they hire. In addition, this document gets regularly updated when each authorized form expires. For example, most recently, Form I-9 should have undergone significant changes when it expired on October 31, 2022. Instead, employers were instructed to continue using the current version until a Federal Register notice announces the availability of the new version.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regularly visit workplaces to perform raids and Form I-9 audits. This year has been hectic for ICE as they continued investigating workplaces at an unprecedented rate.
Any employer may face a visit from ICE, and studies have shown that most completed Form I-9s have several errors. However, most of these are avoidable violations, such as technical violations resulting from confusion about how to complete the form.
The high number of errors is unsurprising, with over 1,200 rules and regulations. In addition, there is a 62-page manual to help employers understand how to correctly complete Form I-9. Given the many rules, regulations, and extensive manual, the chance of ICE discovering violations is significant.
With the chances of violations being discovered so high, it is important to know what is at stake. The average penalty for violations in a single I-9 is $1,862. Though it may seem insignificant, it adds up quickly when many forms likely contain similar errors.
Even small mistakes can be serious because every error on Form I-9 incurs a separate fine. Repeating the same mistake on several forms can result in disastrous fines and penalties.
Fines may also increase by up to 25% depending on the employer’s size, the seriousness of the violations, good faith, and other factors. As an example of how this can add up, 2019 saw $14 million in fines for Form I-9 violations.
Unfortunately, it may not be apparent to employers how to ensure they comply.
The rules and regulations for Form I-9 can prove challenging to understand. Employers often struggle with Form I-9 because of their complex nature, the sheer bulk of complicated regulations, and the frequent updates. The best way to keep up is to use an electronic I-9 management system to help manage the process.
This system can provide step-by-step guidance through the process, ensuring uniform completion. In addition, it will securely store forms and related documentation, ensuring immediate availability when ICE does come knocking.
Automate your employment eligibility verification today with the ensured compliance of I-9 Compliance.