The recently revised and I-9 is, bringing several changes, both positive and negative.
With the release came indications of greater government enforcement and higher probability of audits resulting in fines.
According to Dave Fowler, vice president of Product Strategy, for Equifax Workforce Solutions some of the positive changes of the revised form include clarifying language regarding when the form should be completed, greater direction on the responsibilities for both the employer and employee when completing it and more insight into the types of identification that are accepted.
Added Fowler, with the number of Form I-9 audits on the rise, and the expansion of the form from one page to two, it is more important than ever for organizations to get it right.
Fines for incorrect Forms I-9 average about $950 per form. In addition, fines increase for subsequent violations, highlighting the importance of completing the Form I-9 process accurately the first time.
“The emergence of the revised Form I-9, twice the length of the previous version, has greatly complicated what was already a challenging process. With the number of inspections and violations on the rise, the ability to successfully stay in compliance has become more difficult by the day. Employers must be well informed about the Form I-9 process, and understand what the government is looking for and why, to ensure Forms I-9 are completed properly.
“As the government puts more focus on worksite enforcement, organizations are under greater pressure to ensure they minimize errors when completing Form I-9. Due to the many changes included in the latest revision of the form, the ability to complete it correctly for each employee has become even more challenging. By understanding the new requirements, and working with a partner that can provide a fully automated, electronic Form I-9 process, employers can ensure they stay compliant,” he said.
The top best practices for any employer are:
- To maintain a policy manual,
- Regularly train staff on the policies,
- Perform regular internal Form I-9 audits, and,
- Properly remediate any Form I-9 errors.”
Most employers don’t realize they may be making errors and often overestimate their compliance rate.
Said Fowler, as they likely haven’t performed a self-audit or actually compared what they have in the Form I-9 with their payroll data, they often don’t realize they are making errors.
Many potential errors with the revised form are little things that most people might not think would matter.
For instance, if an employee doesn’t have a maiden name or other legal names, they still must enter “N/A” in the Other Names Used field.
The employee is not required to enter “N/A” in other optional fields, but DHS recommends it. Another area of concern is the optional fields of e-mail address and telephone number that would allow DHS to contact an employee directly regarding their citizenship/immigration status. Therefore, the employer must double-check the form before signing to ensure the required fields are filled in, and those that are optional are filled with “N/A” or left blank, as required.
More information about recent changes to Form I-9 can be found on the Equifax Workforce Solutions blog and in this informative webinar.