What to Do in Case of Lost Form I-9 Documents
It has happened to many employers. A worker walks in and presents a receipt for a missing or damaged document and asks for time to get a new document from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). What can an employer do in a situation like this one?
Before this year, an employer would be required to give the employee a maximum of 90 days in which to acquire a replacement document for the employer to verify; however, in many cases, this is impossible to manage due to, among many other factors, delays in the issuance of documents and changes in immigration status.
This scenario has been an issue for hiring personnel for many years as they struggle to determine whether or not they can accept alternate documents that prove authorization within the 90 day period. Prior to this year, the answer appeared to be no, and employees would instead need to acquire the replacement of the original documentation, or the employer would be incapable of completing the I-9.
Luckily, as of this year, employers are capable of accepting alternate documentation within the same 90-day timeframe. Employers simply must complete a brand new Section 2 for Form I-9 and append this to the original form. In addition, the USCIS advises employers to include an explanation for the issue requiring this addition either on a separate document attached to the form or, better yet, on page 2 of the Form I-9.
This same issue obviously may come up during the regular reverification process employers are required to perform on Section 3 of Form I-9 in cases where the original work authorization has expired. Fortunately, the solution is much the same for this stage in the process as for incidents involving new hires and completing Section 2.
When employees provide a receipt for the lost or damaged original documentation, employers should attach a new Section 3 in order to record the new substitute documentation.
Addressing unusual situations with completing Form I-9 can be difficult for many employers. Unfortunately, incidents like these can come up surprisingly frequently, so it is best to ensure example templates and regular training for these incidents are supplied to hiring personnel. However, the best option is to use an electronic I-9 management tool. These programs can guide hiring personnel through every step of completing the Form I-9 and ensure that your organization remains compliant no matter what comes up.