Hickock Boardman Benefits

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Where do I start with I-9 Compliance?

With I-9 audits on the rise, it’s no surprise more employers are conducting self-audits before they get a knock on the door from their friendly Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent.  But what should employers be reviewing during a self-audit?

Although not required, self-audits are recommended and can be helpful in finding any errors prior to a “real” audit from ICE.  Here are a few things to consider reviewing to ensure your I-9 Compliance is in check:

  1. Is the most current I-9 form being used?  This is usually the easiest thing to address, yet often times the most overlooked.  To be sure you’re using the most current I-9 form, it’s always best practice to go directly to the USCIS website and use what’s been listed on the website;
  2. Did the employee and employer complete their respective sections correctly? Review both sections for accuracy and completion.  If an error is found in the employee section (Section 1), ONLY the employee can make this change.  An employer cannot make a change to this section.  If an error is found in the employer section (Section 2), the employer can make the change. USCIS is very particular with how changes are made to the document.  For the approved “Correcting the I-9” list, click here
  3. Documentation photocopies:   Are you photocopying documentation produced for ALL employees? Although photocopies of the documentation provided are not required, if an employer does choose to retain photocopies it must be done for ALL employees;
  4. Documentation file: The completed I-9 form, in addition to the documentation copies, must be kept in a file separate from the main employee file.  Additionally, active vs. terminated employee files must be kept separate as well.  Terminated employee I-9’s must be retained for whichever period is later upon termination: 3 years after date of hire OR 1 year after date of termination;
  5. Reverifications: Employees whose immigration status, employment authorization or employment authorization documents expire will require a reverification of documents .  Employers should keep a separate tracking system or spreadsheet with the expiration dates and provide the employee with ample time to provide updated documents;
  6. Payroll records vs. I-9 form:  Does the information in your payroll system match the information on the I-9 form?  Pay special attention to matching hire dates and name changes that may have occurred along the way.  In the event of an audit, if the payroll system doesn’t match your I-9 form, this may raise additional concerns to the auditors.

Regardless of what the audit, it brings employers additional stresses but with proper training and preparation the process can be more manageable.  For the complete employer handbook on I-9s, click here .