We all know that I-9s must be completed when employees start. But, how many of you are doing a good job of completing the I-9 form and, more importantly, keeping the I-9 form and documents which must be attached? Perhaps part of your spring cleaning should be a review of your I-9 process and documentation retention practice.
First, some sobering thoughts. The U.S Immigration and customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest agency in the Department of Homeland Security, with more than 20,000 employees and 400 offices. Each year ICE targets industries for compliance through audits and, in some cases, raids. These audits have revealed that 76% of reviewed I-9 forms have at least one error and nearly all errors can result in a fine, from $110 to over $1,000. These fines can add up quickly.
To avoid these penalties, I recommend a few steps to review your I-9 process and your current I-9s.
- Figure out your I-9 process and write it down;
- Make sure staff responsible for on-boarding new employees know the process
- Review your current I-9s to see if you have consistently completed each section and have the proper documentation;
- Correct the I-9s that are not completed correctly. When you update the I-9, note when you made the update or added documentation. ICE will not generally penalize you for correcting I-9s, but show your work. ICE does not take kindly to substituting I-9s as though they were completed properly upon employment; and
- Organize your files so that you can respond to an ICE audit. You will only have 72 hours to provide the requested documentation. So get it organized how before the clock starts to run.
I-9s are a part of doing business. Make it your goal to update your I-9 process and review your I-9s to make sure they were completed correctly.