Mistakes in processing Employment Eligibility Verification Forms, I-9s, may land your company in a heap of trouble. Enforcement is increasing, and penalties may cost your company lots of money. Poor documentation will cost your company $1,000 per worker and knowingly hiring an illegal immigrant may result in a $10,000 per worker fine. To avoid potential legal trouble and complaints, follow these tips:
1.) Establish a consistent procedure for completing I-9 forms and educate your hiring managers on that procedure.
2.) Make sure that your company is using the latest version of the I-9 form for all new hires. To obtain a copy of the newest form go to www.uscis.gov/I-9 .
3.) Do not require an applicant to complete an I-9 form prior to making a job offer. Remember that this information may be used by the applicant as a claim that your company discriminated against them.
4.) Require all new hires to complete and sign Section 1 of the I-9 form within their first three days of employment.
5.) Do not ask new hires for certain documents. Remember, the employee chooses which documents that he/she would like to submit, not you.
6.) Review an employee’s documents to make sure that they are on the list of acceptable documents and that they appear genuine.
7.) Be consistent when making and retaining copies of I-9 documentation provided on behalf of the employee. Know whether your state requires that you have copies of the documentation or not.
8.) Remember to follow-up on expiring documents that limit the employee’s authorization to work. This would not include a birth certificate, driver’s license, or other type of documentation.
9.) Make sure that you keep all I-9 forms and copies of documentation for three years after the employee’s hire date or one year after his/her termination date, whichever comes later.
10.) Keep all I-9 forms and supporting documentation in a separate file or notebook in a secure location. Do not place the information in an employee’s personnel file.
For additional guidelines on I-9 forms, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated their Handbook for Employers, effective 1/5/11. The handbook is designed to be used by those within an organization who have the responsibility for maintaining the I-9 records. To download the updated version, visit the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov/files/form/m-274.pdf.
If your company representative has additional questions about I-9 forms, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Written By: Kristen Shingleton, M.B.A., CCP
President, New Focus HR LLC