The advantages of partnering with a provider to navigate I-9 and E-Verify changes have been more prominent. Since the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act by the federal government in 1986 which established the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (also known as the Form I-9), employers have been tasked with verifying an employee’s work authorization.
However, the rules guiding Form I-9 and E-Verify processes can (and do) change, and that creates a significant and time-consuming learning curve for employers. On their own, it would be difficult for employers to stay abreast of temporary and permanent changes, which is why a growing number of companies are choosing to partner with an I-9 software provider to better navigate these shifts in policy. This resource is efficient in streamlining the hiring process while also helping companies ensure they stay compliant.
How a Provider Can Help Employers Stay Current on Form I-9 and E-Verify Changes
Form I-9 and E-Verify changes can happen at any time, and it is the responsibility of the employer to be aware of and abide by them. This can sound deceivingly simple when in reality it requires being alert and proactive on top of an already cumbersome workload. With it being difficult to find the right balance, many employers are realizing the advantages of partnering with a provider to navigate I-9 and E-Verify changes.
In addition to these providers offering an intimate understanding of the complexities of I-9 compliance, it is critical to find a provider that also offers a reputable digital I-9 software. This software is designed to help employers stay alert of things such as:
- Missing or incomplete fields
- Key deadlines
- Expiring documents before they become a compliance issue
- New additions or changes to standard policies
Why sacrifice your confidence in staying compliant amidst modified guidelines, when peace of mind is one of the advantages of partnering with a provider to navigate I-9 and E-Verify changes? Do not risk I-9 compliance problems that could result in violations and penalties that will negatively impact your company.
Form I-9 and E-Verify Rule Changes
While rule changes for the Form I-9 and E-Verify program have historically tended to be far and few between with not much beyond publishing a newer version of the Form I-9 itself, the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic has proved to be the exception.
With the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic there were a number of changes that have taken effect since the spring of 2020, like temporarily accepting some List B expired documents for the Form I-9 due to the fact that government offices were either not open or unable to process these documents in a timely manner. However, now that the United States is returning to more of a pre-pandemic atmosphere, some of these temporary changes are now reverting back to standard procedure.
Even the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted some modifications in the hiring process. In March of 2022, the Department of Homeland Security announced temporary protected status (TPS) for citizens of Ukraine already in the United States for the period of eighteen months. In order for this to happen these individuals must have lived in the U.S. since March 1, 2022 and be able to prove it. Employers have been tasked with understanding how to apply for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for these individuals.
These are just two of many examples of how the Form I-9 and E-Verify world and the rules that govern it are rapidly changing and we can expect will continue to change. Being able to have peace of mind while navigating these ever-changing protocols is just one of the advantages of partnering with a software provider to navigate I-9 and E-Verify changes.
Obstacles to Changes in Form I-9 and E-Verify Protocol
Because the Form I-9 and E-Verify are integral to the hiring process, any change at all can be an obstacle for staying compliant. When you look at an even higher number of modifications to these processes and combine them with the following obstacles, the room for error grows:
- Staff turnover. At a season in which much of the nation has more job openings than job seekers, staff turnover is becoming a challenge for employers. If a staff member in charge of following Form I-9 and E-Verify protocol leaves the company, the employer must make sure another staff member can efficiently bridge the gap until a replacement can be found.
- Lack of training. With every change that happens, comes a new process for meeting protocol, and this requires frequent and thorough training. It is critical for employers to realize that training is not one and done but should occur on a frequent basis throughout the calendar year.
- National events such as COVID-19. When unprecedented events such as the pandemic come into play, it may quickly require staff to pivot to new protocol and on more of an ongoing basis.
- Not staying current on mandates. The biggest risk of all may be in not knowing or acknowledging new changes as that can negatively impact an employer’s compliance status.
- Using an old form. Utilizing the current form for both new hires and rehires is essential. Employers often make the mistake of using an out of date form when they rehire former employees. An employer needs to be keenly aware of which version of the I-9 form is acceptable and use only the current published version provided by USCIS.
Consequences of Employers Not Abiding by Changes
Whether an employer is aware of the change or not is somewhat irrelevant in the eyes of the law because it is the responsibility of the employer to stay current of the addition, subtraction, or modification of mandates regarding the Form I-9.
An employer who does not proactively follow the Department of Homeland Security’s newest guidelines, leaves themselves exposed to serious compliance issues. Every employee’s Form I-9 information that does not adhere to DHS guidelines could be subject to a violation and penalty, which can add up quickly.
Not only do these violations often result in monetary penalties against the employer, they can also require legal counsel involvement and a significant amount of legwork to then correct the problem in a way that will satisfy auditors.
The world we live in today and the rules that govern our processes like the Form I-9 and E-Verify are always changing. Trust your compliance process to seasoned experts who know how to help you stay compliant so that you can stay focused on doing what you do best.