While many people returned to the workplace in 2022, many people continue to work remotely, especially under hybrid work arrangements. This ongoing trend has many employers considering how I-9 compliance software streamlines the onboarding process for remote employees.
Since the 1986 passage of The Immigration Reform and Control Act, it has been federally mandated for employees to complete a Form I-9 and submit documentation to prove they are eligible to work in the United States. The fact that some employees may be now working remotely does not excuse them from completing this form, although the process can pose some challenges for employers, including:
- Employers cannot walk employees through the I-9 verification process in-person, leaving some employees confused about what their next step is and the actual deadline.
- Employers typically need to enlist a third party that is in-person with the employee to assist with the inspection and verification of identification documents.
- The recently released I-9 form allows E-Verify program participants the option to inspect employee documents over a video call, however, without in-person review of the I-9 form by an employer, an error that leads to a Tentative Nonconfirmation (mismatch) can be more common.
Fortunately, many of the challenges that come from hiring remote employees can be eased or remedied by understanding how I-9 compliance software streamlines the onboarding process for remote employees.
Although the information required by the Form I-9 does not change whether it is completed remotely or in front of the employer, some of the processes on verifying that same information can vary. This poses a significant problem for some employers who do not fully understand the remote process.
For this reason, an increasing number of employers are turning to professional digital I-9 compliance software to streamline the onboarding process for remote employees. Other advantages for enlisting the help of the software include:
- Professionalism. Reputable digital I-9 software should be designed by people such as employment verification attorneys who understand the complexities of the laws, deadlines, record keeping, and fines associated with compliance or lack thereof. Their industry expertise is the employer’s gain.
- User-friendly. Even the best digital I-9 software can be less than helpful if it is not easy for both the employee and employer to use. I-9 compliance software must be user-friendly to establish a more seamless onboarding process. Especially with remote hires, the ease for employees using the system is key in facilitating remote hiring while staying compliant.
- Digitization. The software keeps the information and copies of documentation required for onboarding in a digital format. This may make the data more easily accessible to employers and limit the handling of physical documents. Digitization of the process makes it convenient for both small and large companies, regardless of the number of employees.
- Streamlined Workflow. There is a lot of flexibility provided by a reputable I-9 software service that provides an HR team an incredible amount of confidence knowing that the I-9 and E-Verify actions all flow sequentially and automatically, and those actions and outcomes are all recorded in the I-9 history which is necessary for any future I-9 audits.
- Risk Mitigation. I-9 regulations require employers to have an I-9 form on file for all employees. Certain types of employment eligibility documents provided by the employee require revalidation upon their expiration. A Digital I-9 system puts tracking and compliance actions in front and center of a Human Resources view so that the appropriate actions can be done timely. Missing these deadlines could result in thousands of dollars per missed deadline if a company were audited by the government.
- Updates. There may be times when some of the I-9 processes could change, such as when some of the temporary flexibilities from 2020 expired in July of 2023. Digital I-9 software from a reputable company should be updated by its creator to reflect these new changes so that the employer is not solely stuck with the responsibility of monitoring compliance law for hiring.
- Increased confidence. The effectiveness of the software and its attention to detail empowers employers to feel more confident about their onboarding process for remote employees. This confidence is particularly valuable when a new HR team member who just finished training is beginning to process new hires for the first time.
Remote Onboarding Hardships That Could Result Without Digital I-9 Compliance Software
Without digital I-9 compliance software that is specifically designed to assist employers with onboarding in-person and remote employees, the burden of the process as well as any updates or changes lies primarily on the shoulders of the employer. While there are resources at hand such as the M-274 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services handbook, it requires time to read through that information and become familiar enough with it to be comfortable handling remote employee onboarding. It requires that employers stay abreast of changes to any Form I-9 processes in order to be compliant with federal law.
Staying I-9 compliant can be a tremendous responsibility for human resource departments who often find themselves already overwhelmed with day-to-day responsibilities. It may also lead to burnout among staff, which may create turnover that then requires detailed training for new HR employees. Without change, the cycle is at risk of continuing.
Employers who understand how I-9 compliance software streamlines the onboarding process for remote employees can feel more proactive, competent, and confident in remaining compliant with their hiring processes.