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Increased Federal Scrutiny Warrants Another Look at I-9 Compliance

Last month, we talked about 1-9 requirements here.

This month, I was interviewed by The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel regarding I-9 Compliance.

Below is a more detailed description of I-9 requirements and steps a company can take to avoid inadvertent errors:

The I-9 form is required for every employee of the company, including its officers, executives or partners. It is important to remember that the review and certification of an employee’s documents must be done in person with the original documents. The I-9 must be filled out prior to the start of employment, and the employee must be given the option to choose the documents required to prove employment eligibility. The company cannot dictate which documents should be used. In addition, where employees have authorization for only a limited period of time, the company should be certain they have a calendaring system that allows them to be reminded to re-verify in a timely manner. It is also important to remember that in the case of former employees, companies are required to retain I-9 forms for a period of at least three years from the date of hire or for one year after the employee is no longer employed, whichever is longer. Once outside that period, it is a good idea to dispose of those I-9s as you are not required to keep them on file. I-9s kept on file after the mandatory retention period can still be found violative if they are not compliant. I always recommend that a company undergo internal audits on a periodic basis to make sure that their paperwork is in order. It is important that the company have only a limited group of people who are trained specifically in preparing the I-9 and maintaining the files. This helps to prevent errors. If the internal staff is not well trained in I-9 compliance, then it is further recommended that the company hire an attorney to supervise an audit. When I prepare an audit for a company, in addition to looking for errors to correct, I also keep an eye out for particular trends or tendencies that may lead to repeat errors. Tendencies I often see include paperwork that is not properly signed, missing documentation, reliance on the wrong type of documentation – e.g. a passport or visa instead of an approval notice that lists the document’s expiration – and not tracking expirations, or tracking expirations but not re-verifying the initial document. Once my review is complete, I not only correct the errors, but also prepare a report that companies can use to show good faith compliance efforts should they receive an audit. Finally, I will meet with the HR staff to train and educate them on what they are doing incorrectly so that they can be more efficient and accurate in the future.

Check out the full interview here.