I-9 Rules for Employers

The obligations of business owners seem to be endless, and one of the single most important legal responsibilities deals with I-9 rules for employers. Since the passage of the 1986 Immigration and Reform Control Act, federal law mandates that employers have employees complete a Form I-9 by the first day on the job. The complexity of the form and the ongoing tracking has many companies increasingly turning to digital I-9 software for assistance with their I-9 compliance procedures.

Completing the Form I-9 is law, and failure to comply with I-9 rules for employers could result in serious violations.  For every case or employee that is found not to be in compliance, a penalty may be issued and can range from hefty fines to the loss of a business license and potentially worst of all, some really bad press.  With so much at stake, companies should have a clear understanding of I-9 rules for employers so they can stay compliant and avoid costly consequences.

I-9 Rules For Employers

What are I-9 requirements?

The main purpose of the Form I-9 is to establish the identity of an employee and the employee’s eligibility to work within the United States. The form requires basic personal information from employees to begin the process. The Form I-9 has three main sections, each with a different set of requirements that involves effort on behalf of the employee, employer, or both.

The first section of the Form I-9 requests information directly from the employee. For those companies who utilize digital I-9 software, employees may have access in advance to a checklist of the information that will be required, which can help limit confusion. Employees must then sign the form, confirming that the information presented is accurate.

Section two of the Form I-9 typically requires a joint effort between the employee and the employer.  Employees must provide proper identification documents as stated on the form to the employer. Once the documents have been submitted, employers must verify their authenticity.

Section three of the form must be completed when there is a change to an employee’s status, including a name change, an expiration of work authorization, or a rehire within three years of the date listed on the original Form I-9.

Each of these sections is integral to the integrity of the document and must be completed accurately to meet I-9 rules for employers and help keep a company within I-9 compliance.

How does an employer fill out an I-9?

Because there are so many moving parts to the form, it is crucial that the I-9 rules for employers are followed to completely to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences.

Particularly when overseeing an employee’s completion of the first section of the Form I-9, employers should make sure it meets the form’s timeline of being completed by the employee’s first day on the job. Employers must also ensure that required fields are completed in full, not allowing any blank or missing fields, including signatures. Digital I-9 software can be helpful in alerting employers to these types of common human error.

For section two of the Form I-9, employers must ensure it is completed within three business days of the employee’s first day on the job. In addition, employers must reasonably examine each identification document in an act of good faith to establish its authenticity, which will in turn affect the employee’s eligibility to work.

Pertaining to the third part of the form, it is used for changes in an employee’s status. These changes must be made in a timely manner in order to stay compliant.  Digital I-9 software can be useful in giving employers time-sensitive alerts warning of expiring work authorizations.

Why I-9 Rules For Employers Matter

Companies found not to be compliant with the Form I-9 can experience some serious consequences.  When it comes to being found not compliant, violations can range from civil to criminal penalties. These violations are generally issued on a case by case basis which means that if multiple instances of not being compliant are found, penalties can stack up quickly.

Depending on the specific violation(s), penalties can range from hefty fines, to the partial or entire loss of workforce, to the loss of a business license. Each of these consequences has the potential to negatively impact a company’s bottom line and affect staff morale.

Digital I-9 Software’s Role in I-9 Rules for Employers

With so much on the line, companies often prefer to utilize additional resources such as digital I-9 software programs to help them more easily navigate the Form I-9 process. Overall, this user-friendly type of software is designed to help businesses be more efficient and organized.

The benefits of enlisting the assistance of a digital I-9 software program may include:

  • Minimization of common human errors. This generally translates to catching blank or partially filled in fields or missing signatures, all of which left uncorrected could translate to compliance issues.
  • Warnings of impending deadlines. The software should alert employers to upcoming deadlines, providing the opportunity to stay ahead of a complication that could negatively affect compliance.
  • E-Verify Interface. This software is structured to interact with the E-Verify program that many companies use. The interface allows convenient features such as auto-population of fields, important alerts, and notification of open cases.
  • By using the digital I-9 software, management should have the capability to pull a report at will to assess compliance status. This helps management to be proactive in knowing where the company stands when it comes to being compliant.
  • Audit assistance. If an official audit becomes a reality, the software company should be able to provide auditors with an audit trail and other specific information as it is requested. The company is generally also able to assist with the mass printing of Form I-9 records.

By following Form I-9 rules for employers and by utilizing resources such as digital I-9 software programs, companies can have greater peace of mind about the process of attaining and maintaining a compliant status.