The Federal government’s recent crackdown on the employment of unauthorized employees has sparked urgency amongst HR leaders to spend more time training managers on how to properly fill out the I-9 form, and more importantly, what to look out for. The Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has instituted nationwide audits through 2014, with a primary focus on employers’ I-9 files.
The purpose of the Form I-9 is to verify and document, in good faith, that each new employee is authorized to work in the United States. There is exposure to violations where the form is not filled out properly and within 3 days of the new employee’s start date. Employers may be subject to fines for each incomplete section on the form and possible jail time for willfully or knowingly hiring an illegal alien. Fines can be high for employers who have inaccurately completed I-9s, or who have hired an employee unauthorized to work.
Employers should establish a practice of conducting internal audits of their files to ensure compliance.
Here is a list of FAQs pertaining to the I-9 form:
- Who fills out Section 1 (Employee Information and Verification)?
Section 1 is filled out by the employee and must be completed no later than their date of hire.
- If an employee refuses to put their Social Security number on the form, can I stop the hiring process?
Employees do not have to provide their Social Security Number in Section 1 unless the employer participates the USCIS Electronic Employment Eligibility verification program (E-Verify).
- Who completes Section 2 (Employer Review and Verification)?
Section 2 is filled out by the representative of the employer who is reviewing the employee’s identification and employment verification documents.
- If an employee hands me documents from list A, B and C can I pick the ones that I want?
Employers may not specify which documents they accept from an employee to complete Section 2. There is a specific list of acceptable unexpired documents that must be provided by the employee.
- There are two dates in Section 2. What date do I use?
Certification section: The date the employee began work.
Section by the employer’s signature and business address: The date the employer reviewed the documentation the employee presented to show employment authorization.
Important: Employers must complete and sign Section 2 of the Form I-9 within three business days of the employee’s first day of work.
- What forms of ID can the employee use?
The list of acceptable documents is on the back of the form I-9. You must either have a document from LIST A or you must have two documents, one each from LIST B and LIST C. The employer representative will write the information in the corresponding fields, including the document title, the issuing authority, the document number and the document expiration date for each piece of identification provided. If there is no expiration date, such as with a Social Security Card, the employer may write “N/A” on that line.
- What if an employee lists a work authorization date?
Employers should pay close attention to a work authorization expiration date if the employee includes one in Section 1. Employers are required to re-verify employment authorization on or before the date given.
- Who fills out Section 3 (Updating and Reverification)?
Section 3 is completed by the employer. This section is only to be completed when a current employee’s identification expires, the employee’s name changes, or a past employee is rehired and the employee’s identification needs to be re-verified.
- Are you using the correct version of Form I-9?
Look at the revision date printed on the bottom right corner of the form, and NOT the expiration date printed at the top of the form. Forms with the dates: Rev. 08/07/09 Y and Rev. 02/02/09 N are currently valid.
- Can I use the Spanish Form I-9 if my employee speaks Spanish?
The Spanish version of Form I-9 can only be completed by employers in Puerto Rico. Employers in the rest of the United States may use the Spanish version as a translation guide for Spanish-speaking employees, but must fill out and keep the English version for their records.
For more details on completing the Form I-9 and using E-verify, please contact Xenium HR.