One of the issues discussed at this year’s state unit meetings was that of the new I-9 Employment eligibility form. The I-9 form must be filled out by every new hire or rehire before going to work and they must present documents proving they are eligible to work by the 3rd day of work. This seems simple enough but the I-9 is one form that has employed countless attorneys and whole careers have been made defending employers and keeping employers in compliance with this deceptively simple form.
In addition to the new form coming out, another reason to pay attention to this form is concern among employment law attorneys that the Trump administration will pick up where the Bush administration left off with workplace raids and employer audits. We haven’t seen that much yet and no gins that I know of have been subject to USCIS audit but there has been a slight increase in the number of employer audits in a number of industries. They aren’t widespread but it is typical for Republican administrations to be a bit more tough on illegal immigration and with the rhetoric during the campaign, we should be on guard.
The USCIS has created some decent resources in its I-9 Central Page. This is a page that is dedicated to helping employers and employees complete the I-9 properly and helping to ensure that employers have the resources necessary to stay in compliance with the rules surrounding the I-9.
Another resource is a simple google search. Try searching for ‘I-9 Tips and Tricks’ and you will find a lot of sites that have been built (mostly by law firms) that have a good bit of helpful information.
Just as an example of some common compliance issues include the employer filling out the form when not acting as a translator or interpreter. Did you know there shouldn’t be any empty boxes that could be filled in like the box for apartment number. Any fill in the blank box like that should have an N/A in it if it doesn’t apply. Did you know that you shouldn’t white out any information on the I-9? All corrections should be made by drawing a line through the incorrect information, correcting it, and initialing the correction. If a lot of information needs to be fixed, you can fill out a new I-9 and attach it to the incorrectly filled out one. It helps to attach a note with an explanation as well.
I joke that this one three-page form has 15 pages of instructions and a 150+ page manual and hold it up as an example of what’s wrong with the government but all those resources have been created so that you as the employer only hire people that are eligible to work in the US. In recent years, not only has this become more complex the USCIS has created a number of things to help you do it correctly.
Every once in a while it doesn’t hurt to do your own audit of your I-9’s, purge the ones you don’t need to keep (there are specific record retention requirements for this form) and make sure you don’t have any gaps in your compliance.