The education industry employs hundreds of thousands of people nationwide. Employers and new hires within this industry are legally required to meet the mandates set forth by the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act.
Depending on the school and state, employment cycles may include semester, quarters, and annual on-boarding timelines, and for all of these scenarios this can create a rush to get employees onboarded in an efficient and timely manner. Add to this that personnel in charge of processing new hires at schools, colleges and universities are often responsible for more than just hiring, and the need for a third party to assist with I-9 hiring practices is real.
What Hires Does the Form I-9 Apply to Within the Education Industry?
Quite simply, the short answer is all of them. This applies to multiple levels of education including:
- First and secondary schools
- Trade schools
- Colleges and universities
Within these parameters, the Form I-9 is used for all payroll hires such as the following:
- Janitorial staff
- Nursing staff
- Student employees
The Form I-9 Process for New Hires in the Education Industry
Depending on a variety of circumstances, the Form I-9 process can differ slightly from individual to individual. Some examples of these differences include:
- Individuals who already have a social security number. These people are required to complete the Form I-9 as directed. This includes relaying personal information in Section 1 and sharing approved and unexpired identity documentation in Section 2.
- Individuals who do not have a social security number. These people must also complete a Form I-9 and are required to apply for a social security number and card in doing so. This may be marked as SSN Applied For on the Form I-9. Foreign nationals who are not legal permanent residents are required to complete the Foreign National Information Form (FNIF) and proceed as directed.
In unprecedented times such as the era of the coronavirus, the Department of Homeland Security may announce some temporary flexibilities or changes that have a set expiration date. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure they are familiar with the most up to date guidelines for the Form I-9 and follow them carefully to ensure their compliance standing is not compromised.
What Having a Professional I-9 Intelligence Company Can Do for the Education Industry
Processing new hires is an ongoing task for most employers which can ebb and flow in terms of workload. However, the education industry is particularly unique in that it frequently requires the processing of many hires at the same time during the late spring and summer as schools begin preparing for the upcoming year. This can present a challenge in effectively managing this workload while minimizing the potential for mistakes that could lead to compliance issues.
When it comes to trade schools, colleges, and universities, hiring tends to be more of an ongoing process that often sees a flourish of activity before the beginning of each semester. The rush to get instructors and staff ready for the upcoming semester frequently creates an uneven workload that requires assistance to ensure all Form I-9 requirements and deadlines are met.
For many in the education industry, this is where enlisting the help of a professional I-9 intelligence company can become an invaluable resource. These types of organizations and the digital I-9 software they create and design can help in the following ways:
- Streamline the hiring process. By making the process digital, I-9 software can help streamline the process to make a more effective use of time and energy. The program features printable checklists regarding completing the form for both employees and employers. This assists with keeping them on task to meet the necessary requirements and deadlines.
- Reduce the incidence of human error. Section one of the Form I-9 requires the employee to provide basic personal information such as name, address, etc. In entering this information, it is not uncommon for an individual to inadvertently leave a field blank or incomplete. Another element of the form that is frequently forgotten is required signatures. The software is crafted to help catch errors such as incomplete or blank fields and alert the employer of them before the data is submitted and it creates a compliance issue.
- Auto populate E-Verify. Each state may have their own guidelines for schools and the federal E-Verify program. For schools that are required to complete a Form I-9 and open a case in E-Verify, it can mean manually reentering information by hand. However, a reputable digital I-9 software should feature the capability to auto populate E-Verify fields with the same information digitally entered into the Form I-9, which may further reduce the incidence of human error.
- Alert employers of upcoming deadlines and expirations. It may take close to the entire time allotted by the Form I-9 to gather all the necessary information and the upcoming deadline alerts from I-9 intelligence software is invaluable in this respect. Some employees may also have identification documents that expire and require renewal. These software programs are designed to alert employers of these upcoming expirations in advance so they may be resolved before they become a compliance issue.
- Stay on top of current hiring legislation. There are limited instances in which protocol for hiring could be temporarily modified. This can be prompted by a temporary change in federal law which requires a limited time only flexibility. A good software program should alert employers to these changes to help ensure they are meeting the most updated requirements.
- Assist with audits. Should an independent school district, campus, or university be audited by a government agency, the digital I-9 software provides auditors with both a detailed explanation of the operation of the software and audit trails. When required, the I-9 intelligence company behind the software should also be able to provide a mass printing of pertinent I-9 records and attachments.
The education industry is one of the fastest growing in the United States and has an increasing number of new hires each year. It is a mistake for employers in this industry to leave compliance to chance. Better protect yourself and your school by contacting a reputable and experienced I-9 intelligence professional today.