Do organizations require an I-9 Compliance Software? Unquestionably! As long as you deal with Form I-9s and aim to stay compliant with the federal regulations, you need a compliance software that can make the job easier for you.
Every organization has a never-ending list of tasks to complete to be deemed successful. And, Form I-9 compliance stands out as one of the most important requirements. Any employer hiring employees for pay should complete the Form I-9 within 3 business days from the date of hire.
Form I-9 is a 2-page document that may seem simple, but is not so. The main objective of Form I-9 is to verify the employment eligibility of the individuals you hire. You must be aware that the employee completes Section-1 of the form, the employer completes Section-2, and verifies the supporting documents. It sounds simple, right? You may think what can go wrong with this? Actually, a lot.
A lion’s share of the HR managers considers the Form I-9 as the most complex form and ensuring its compliance as the most challenging job. If not completed properly, this 2-page form can turn out to be a Pandora’s box of problems. Those organizations that fail to follow the norms receive NOIs from ICE. Every year those organizations that are non-compliant become liable to huge penalties. Sadly, many HRs are still confused about the process to follow in staying compliant.
If you look at the previous year’s records, you can find that a whopping 6,456 Form I-9 inspections were conducted by Immigration & Customs Enforcement. ICE is getting more and more vigilant about the undocumented workers and is increasing the workplace investigations for I-9 compliance failure.
ICE has been reminding business owners about the penalties. Monetary penalties for knowingly hiring and continuing to employ violations range from $573 to $20,130 per violation, with repeat offenders receiving penalties, at the higher end. Penalties for substantive violations, which include failing to produce a Form I-9, range from $230 to $2,292 per violation.
Here are some of the challenges and issues that organizations face:
If you are hiring an employee for pay, be it for a week, a month, or a year, you have to complete the Form I-9 within 3-days from the date of hire.
If you are a large organization of thousands of employees, it is never an easy task to keep track of all the new hires and their I-9 deadlines. This is how employers miss deadlines and become penalized. Also, USCIS releases various versions of the Form based on the requirement. And, using the correct version of the form is the responsibility of the employer. One has to remember that completing the correct version of the form is as important as completing the form.
If completion of Form I-9 for your employees is a challenging task, what about your employees who are thousands of miles away from you. Though USCIS allows assigning an authorized representative to complete the task, the challenging aspect is finding the right person to do it. In most of the cases, employers find it hard, as the authorized representative selected may not have a clear idea of what is requested from them. This creates a lot of hassle for the employer, leading to improper verification of the remote hire.
Are you aware that you have to retain I-9s even for your terminated employees? Yes, USCIS specifies the I-9 retention period as three years from the date of hire or one year from the last date of employment, whichever is later.
If you hire an employee on 05/14/2015 and terminate on 02/08/2019, check these 3 points:
1. Date of hire: 05/14/2015
A. Adding three years to the date of hire: 05/14/2018
2. Date of termination: 06/08/2019
B. Adding one year to the date of termination: 06/08/2020
3. Which date is later; A or B? Date B is later.
So, you have to retain his/her I-9 till 06/08/2020
But, retaining stacks and stacks of forms and increasing the chances of missing a form doesn't seem like an ideal way of doing it, right? What if an ICE agent requests the form of one particular employee, and you fail to find it? Be prepared to lose too many dollars from the pocket.
Is there a change in one of your employee's work authorizations? Is your employee working on a new project?
Have you updated the Form I-9 with the work authorization changes?
Remember, every change in an employee's work authorization should be recorded in Form I-9. Making the update for many employees is a challenging task, but failing to do so would result in penalties.
Have you ever made changes to any of your employees’ Form I-9s? Are you maintaining track of all HR activities?
Whatever may be the activity, you have to keep a record of it. ICE agents may request for the I-9 audit trail during an inspection. But recording every activity is not humanly possible, especially if you are a large enterprise.
Overwhelming, isn’t it? Many employers may fail to comply with these norms, and it would be too late to correct these errors when an ICE agent knocks at your office. So, get hold of an I-9 compliance software that can offer solutions for these challenges.
With the increase in the need for I-9 compliance, employers are moving towards digital solutions. But, how to choose the one that can best comply with the regulations and help your organization's success? Here are some recommendations that can help you choose the best one.
i) Notify about Completing the Form I-9
An ideal I-9 software has to notify you about the timelines and thus, remind you about I-9 completion within the 3-day rule. This way, you will never miss a completion.
ii) Guidance in Remote Employee Verification
One of the main objectives of any I-9 software is to guide employers in verifying supporting documents of remote hires. Whatever solution you prefer; it should guide you in completing I-9s for remote hires. It should provide support for remote hires and verification with third-party employer agencies, notary, or authorized service providers.
iii) Retention of Form I-9s
As discussed earlier, employers have to take care of Form I-9 retention requirements. The I-9 software you choose must retain all the Form I-9s in the proper format till the retention period, thereby making the forms readily accessible during audits.
iv) Tracking the I-9 activities
The I-9 compliance software should have a record of every single I-9 activity you complete as an employer. This audit trail helps you in having a clear idea about the updates and also guides you through an ICE audit.
v) Paper Form Conversion
The software should let you scan and upload your documents. In that way, your paper Form I-9s will be effortlessly and instantaneously be converted into compliant and easily manageable electronic forms.
vi) E-Verify Integration
E-verification of employment eligibility is the best way to ensure that your employees are authorized to work in the U.S. Do you think there’s a better way of doing it other than relying on DHS and SSA records using E-Verify? It is widely acknowledged that automation, digital storage, and paperless storage make I-9 Compliance with E-Verify easy. So, software that integrates with E-verify is an ideal choice to assure I-9 compliance.
OnBlick is a pioneer in HR and Immigration compliance that has been helping businesses deal with their I-9 and E-Verification processes. It lets you manage all your I-9s electronically and its seamless integration with E-Verify web services simplifies the task. It guides you in completing Form I-9s of all your employees, including remote hires. OnBlick retains the I-9s of all your employees according to the USCIS guidelines on the retention period. You do not need to worry about keeping track of your employees’ document expiries when OnBlick sends you timely alerts and reminders. It also maintains an audit trail for all the I-9 activities, thereby preparing you for an ICE audit. Know more about this user-friendly compliance solution here.