Officially called the Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment eligibility of all the individuals hired for work in the US. All US employers must complete and retain this form for each employee (citizens and noncitizens) they hire.
Employers who enroll for E-verify services should verify the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees by electronically matching the information in the Form I-9, against the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records.
Remember, E-verify is not a replacement for Form I-9.
Here are a few of the common mistakes employers/ employees commit while completing the form:
During an ICE audit, the audit officer inspects Form I-9s to ensure compliance. Any violations that are found during the inspection are categorized as substantive or technical violations. The audit officer gives 10 business days for the correction of any technical violations, while the substantive violations result in monetary fines.
The fines for these violations start from $230 and can go up to $2,292 per I-9.
Hefty penalties imposed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are majorly due to the substantive violations. The best way to avoid these penalties is to perform an I-9 internal audit and devise an executable I-9 policy.
Does your organization conduct an internal audit? Does your organization have an I-9 policy? If you don’t, it’s high time you had one and started conducting regular I-9 self-audits.
ICE audit is a random inspection conducted by the Immigration & Customs Enforcement office that is initiated by a Notice Of Inspection (NOI) and the employers are provided 3 business days to produce Form I-9s. Upon the completion of the inspection, ICE will notify the organization with any one of the following notices: Notice of Suspect Documents, Notice of Discrepancies, Notice of Technical or Procedural Failures, Warning Notice, Notice of Intent to Fine (NIF)
Internal I-9 audit is a key factor in ensuring compliance. Employers can carry out an internal I-9 audit following the guidance issued by ICE. These audits provide a chance for the employers to review the forms and reveal errors (if any) that are present in the Form I-9. And thus, employers can make the necessary corrections and record the corrections in an Audit note which stays with the I-9 that was corrected. This prepares you for any Notice of Inspection from ICE. So, conducting an internal I-9 audit at least once a year will lower the penalties at a significant rate.
Most importantly, ICE cannot penalize any employer even if they come across substantive violations after 5 years of an internal audit done by the organization.
Though internal I-9 audits are the best way to make your organization audit-ready, conducting audits can be really complex and confusing at times. You can always approach a third-party auditor to help you in conducting these audits. OnBlick can guide you with I-9 internal audits. Choose the right compliance partner and drive out the fear of non-compliance.