More and more work site compliance audits and more restrictive E-Verify laws from the government are making immigration compliance with employment eligibility a very critical function for HR departments in many companies across the United States. Employers in the United States have been under strict watch since the mid-1980s to ensure they are keeping a legal workforce. When employers complete the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form for every worker they hire, they are able to show that they are working to meet the requirements for verifying identification and eligibility to work in the United States.
Researchers have conducted studies that showed a typical business will usually have errors on about 50 percent of their I-9 forms. This is a serious issue, because each mistake can result in harsh penalties. In addition to this, employers can lose their business licenses. Federal contractors can be debarred, and claim applicants may be able to show discrimination proof or proof of other claims. Experts said that they have seen an increase of 600 percent in both random and targeted audits for I-9 data. One expert pointed out five of the most critical and risky mistakes that employers face with E-Verify and I-9 forms. E-Verify is the electronic employment verification service provided by the government. The following paragraphs outline the five biggest mistakes on this topic.
1. Denying There Is An I-9 Problem Many employers believe an I-9 is just a formality or a simple form they have to fill out, and they rarely stop to think they may be audited. However, the growing popularity of E-Verify and the growing number of audits show that possible liability is high.
2. Submitting The Form After The Deadline The first section of the I-9 must be completed by the new worker before the first day, and the second section must be filled out by the employer within three days of the employee starting work.
3. Not Verifying Signatures Some employers make the mistake of not checking that the form is signed by the employee. This mistake is essentially viewed the same as not submitting an I-9 at all.
4. Using An Incorrect Version It is important to ensure the most current available form is used. Old forms are not sufficient.
5. Waiting For ICE To Appear Any issues can and should be remedied before government enforcers show up. Experts encourage employers to review their forms now for any errors or omissions. Efforts to fix errors now will be seen more favorably than they will when ICE has to make an appearance.
Anti-Discrimination Provision This part of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that employers cannot use unfair practices with I-9 forms. This means that they cannot request different documents or more documents than what they need to verify a worker’s eligibility and identity. If documents appear to be genuine, they cannot be rejected. For example, employers cannot make workers who they think may be foreign show green cards.
Improper I-9 Form Retention Employers are required to keep their workers’ I-9 forms for the entire duration of employment. If the worker quits or is terminated, the employer must determine how long to keep the forms. This is either three years from the date of hire or one year after termination. The I-9 form data can be kept either electronically or on paper.
Not Taking E-Verify Seriously Experts said that people who use E-Verify are automatically more likely to be audited than those who do not use the system. Employees should make sure they pay attention to the E-Verify chain’s operational control and know the differences between E-Verify and I-9 requirements. They should also pay close attention to their own state laws, which vary from one state to the next. It is important to have a tentative non-confirmation policy. If a notice of this type is received, employers must meet with the named employees or review all documentation to understand what is happening. ICE is tracking these closely, so employers should print out their notices when they are received. To learn more about this topic, contact ACBI.