As forms go, the Form I-9 should be a quick and easy part of the on-boarding process. You’ve gone through the often long and drawn-out hiring process, and you still have all the orientation and benefits work ahead. A two page form should be a piece of cake.
Unfortunately, this necessary step to verify that your new hire can legally work in the United States is filled with landmines. These landmines come with some pretty steep penalties, so all HR representatives need to be well versed on how to fill the form out correctly.
A Form I-9 is a government document that confirms a new hire is either a US citizen, or that they are in the country legally and have the proper documentation that allows them to work. You can download the full from directly from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. There are two sections of the Form I-9. Below, you'll see a breakdown of each of the sections and what is needed to complete them:
Section 1 must be filled out before a new hire completes their first day on the job. It must be filled out by the employee to provide proof of identification.
The form asks for:
All translators or preparers who help an employee fill out the Form I-9 need to sign and date the form and provide their address.
Section 2 is the Employer’s Review and Verification. This section must be completed within 3 days of the date of hire. It must be filled out by an employer’s representative.
In this section, the employer is certifying that their new hire is legally allowed to work in the US and that the representative has viewed the necessary documents in person.
When filling out a Form I-9, the employee must be ready to provide proof of his/her identity using different documents designated on the government site. An employee can provide one from List A to show proof of identity and employment eligibility. Here is a list of the acceptable documents from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration.
If under the age of 18
There has definitely been a little confusion about the difference between the Form I-9 and E-Verify. E-Verify is not a replacement for the Form I-9. In fact the I-9 is the heart of the E-Verify process.
E-Verify is a free government service that compares the information provided by the employee on the Form I-9 with data from the US Department of Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration, and in some cases, the Department of Motor Vehicles.
E-Verify is mandatory for federal contractors and for employers is a few states.
Using E-Verify does not excuse an employer from filling out and retaining Form I-9s for their employees, but it can add a level of security in the case of an audit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Using E-Verify is seen as a good faith effort to make sure all employees are eligible to work.
|Mandatory for all employers||Voluntary for all employers|
|Completed by employer and new hire||Submitted electronically by employer|
|No Social Security Number Needed||Requires a Social Security Numbers|
|List B identity documents do not require a photo||List B identity documents do require a photo|
|Can be used to re-verify expired employment authorization||Cannot be used to re-verify once employment verification has expired|
The Form I-9 has undergone many revisions over the years. The most recent form went into effect on September 18, 2017.
Some of the changes are just names and phrases:
Other changes include:
The basic steps for filling out the Form I-9 are the same whether you are hiring someone from around the corner or across the country.
There are a few challenges involved when it comes to remote hires. The most significant is that you need someone on the ground with the new hire to look at their verification documents and sign Section 2 of the Form I-9. You only have 3 days from the date of hire to authenticate these documents. Options include using an authorized representative, which can be almost anyone the employer trusts, hiring a notary public, or taking advantage of agent networks provided by electronic I-9 solutions like EBI-9.
This might seem like a lot of effort for a little form, but the penalties for skimping on the process can be steep. If you face an ICE audit of your Form I-9s you could be looking at $110 to $1,100 in fines per form.
Learn more about I-9 Verification for Remote Employees.
Even though the Form I-9 is a mere 3 pages, it is a landmine for employers. The small details are so important that there are 70 pages of instructions for filling out the form.
Things like failing to date or sign a section are fodder for auditors. You will not have a lot of time to prepare if Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent presents you with a Notice of Inspection. If that happens, you could have as little as 3 days to present all of your Form I-9s as well as other documents that might be requested.
If you are audited, agents will inspect your Form I-9s to make sure they are complete and that you have one for every current employee. When it comes to former employees, you must retain original I-9 forms for three years after the date of hire, or one year after the date employment ends, whichever is later.
Learn more about an I-9 Audit and how you can prevent them.
If all of these guidelines surrounding the Form I-9 have you uneasy, you are not alone. With the current political climate, making sure you are hiring employees that are allowed to work is more important than ever. ICE raids and audits are on the rise and are expected to continue to grow.
An automated system that works with your applicant tracking software and background screening program is a good way to keep your Form I-9s in order. State-of-the-art technology makes sure that Form I-9s are filled out properly every step of the way. The forms are then stored electronically which means they can be produced, if needed, with just the push of a button.
EBI-9 also assists in the hiring of remote employees as well as utilizing E-Verify, if your company chooses to do so.