Are You Compliant With Your I-9 Responsibilities?

January 26, 2016

Many employers are unaware of the accuracy required by the federal government in the completion of I-9 documents. Only when the government conducts an audit do these employers learn the extent of mistakes they have been making for years. Committing errors on documents may result in penalties of up to $1,100 for each I-9 form. Thus, a mistake on 100 forms could result in penalties exceeding $100,000. In addition, employing individuals who are ineligible to work because of expired documents or other reasons may result in penalties of $3,200 per worker.

The types of mistakes that can result in fines are often clerical errors. Here are some of the most common mistakes that could result in penalties:

  • Incorrect or Missing Forms. Placing incorrect dates on the I-9 form, failure to get signatures (including the employer’s signature), transposed information and incomplete checked boxes are common errors.
  • The Three-Day Rule. ICE rules stipulate that I-9 forms must be completed within three business days of the first day of work.
  • Failure to Re-Verify. For employees of certain citizenship status, employers will need to track and update the employee’s supporting I-9 documentation. It is the employer’s responsibility to monitor the date of work eligibility and request new documentation prior to expiration of the documents.
  • Invalid Identifying Documents. The employer must check all documents to be sure they are actually presented and valid. If an employer fails to obtain the right     combination of identifying documents from list A, or lists B and C, then the I-9 documentation will be considered incomplete and the employer becomes subject to fines. Obtaining too many documents may also be a violation.
  • Not Making Legible Copies. Documents must be readable in order to verify the information.
  • Not Properly Making Corrections to Documents. Corrections should be made on the original I-9 form and be dated and initialed. If a new I-9 form is used to correct   errors, the employer should not destroy original documents.

It is a good practice for employers to periodically audit their I-9 records for compliance. The government is more likely to find violations if the employer makes corrections after a notice of inspection is served. Undertaking audits and correcting errors before a government notice demonstrates the desire to be in compliance with I-9 rules.

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