What Is an I-9 and Why Is It So Important

What Is an I-9 and Why Is It So Important

Immigration laws can be very confusing, which makes complying with them quite challenging. The pandemic has only made complying with these laws even harder. For employers, I-9 compliance is a big part of following immigration laws. But, with the constantly changing regulations, keeping up with this form can be difficult and make it extremely difficult to stay compliant. However, in order to avoid serious penalties, it is absolutely vital to properly fill out and store Form I-9s.

Form I-9

A Form I-9 is used to identify new employees and make sure they are authorized to work in the United States. The requirements associated with Form I-9 or Employment Eligibility Verification started with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). This law banned employers from employing or hiring workers that they knew were not authorized to work in the United States. 

Parts of the I-9 Form

The employee fills out section one of the form with information about themselves and an attestation. The employee will be answering questions about their identity and their eligibility to work in this country. The employee also needs to provide documentation to support the information they supplied by their first day of work.

The employer fills out the second section in which they review the information and verify it. The employer must complete this part by the third business day of the employment.

The third section is used for rehires or reverification.

I-9 Compliance

Every employer must complete an I-9 for every employee they hire and doing this isn’t always easy right now. The DHS and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) decided to make the process of completing an I-9 easier due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They added some flexibility to the process by deferring the requirement to have the employee present during the I-9 process. However, this only applies to workplaces that have employers working remotely. This was certainly helpful but also added some confusion because employers would still need to physically verify an employee’s documents at some point. This flexibility was to continue until December 31, 2020, but this was eventually extended until December 31, 2021.

Even though the changes may make it difficult, employers must ensure that they comply with I-9 regulations. In addition to properly filling out the forms, employers must store them and be prepared to produce them for inspection if requested in three business days. The easiest way to do this and avoid the heavy fines for non-compliance is to use electronic I-9 management software. This makes it easy to uniformly complete and store I-9 data as well as retrieve it at a moment’s notice.