When hiring new workers, many employers rightfully focus their attention on pre-employment screening and vetting. Criminal background checks, verifying the information on CVs, and other tasks consume much of the time required for new hires. However, there are vital steps you must take as part of the hiring process to verify the identity and employment authorization of your new hires using Form I-9. If you don’t set up your onboarding workflow appropriately, you could miss key steps and expose yourself to penalties and other risks. Completing a Form I-9 is a task you don’t want to miss.
Failing to complete these forms for every required employee could ultimately expose your company to fines or other penalties. Let’s discuss what you need to know about this form you must keep on file for every individual who works for you in the United States.
Form I-9 is an official federal government-issued document that businesses must use to verify that every employee has the legal authorization to work in the United States. In other words, Form I-9 is a tool to enable verification of an employee’s identity and authorization to work in the US. Employers are prohibited from hiring and employing someone for employment in the US, knowing they are not authorized for such work. Employers are also prohibited from hiring anyone for employment in the US without verifying their identity and employment authorization using Form I-9. For more information on the statutes and regulations governing employment eligibility verification in the US, please see the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) webpage on Form I-9 Federal Statutes and Regulations.
Form I-9 is a relatively recent invention in government forms, as Form I-9 requirements have only been around since 1986. In that year, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). The ICRA included provisions that prohibit employers from knowingly hiring unauthorized aliens and hiring individuals without completing the employment eligibility verification process.
The Form I-9 used today is not identical to the one authorized in 1986. The government periodically revises the Form, which may render older versions obsolete. Employers should routinely verify that they continue to use a correct version of Form I-9 for their onboarding processes by visiting the USCIS website.
Completing an I-9 is a matter of compliance and peace of mind for employers. You likely already determined that a candidate suits the role. Now, you must satisfy your obligations under applicable laws and regulations to complete Form I-9 and keep your forms on hand for the appropriate period. The federal government may perform a Form I-9 inspection and examine your paperwork–don’t get caught without it.
For employees, a proper Form I-9 process is more of an onboarding matter that most individuals quickly forget after finishing their form. However, from some perspectives, working in a business that verifies employment eligibility shows that the company cares about following the rules. Making this process seamless and easy for staff is an easy way to earn their respect.
Understanding the requirements for employment eligibility verification is crucial. Failing to complete Forms I-9 correctly or keep them available for the required period of time could lead to penalties and serious problems within your business.
Completing Form I-9 should be a mandatory part of your onboarding process. You should have a well-defined procedure for completing these forms. By understanding your Form I-9 responsibilities, you can help ensure your organization is meeting your regulatory requirements. Take this opportunity to review your internal processes in this area with your legal counsel today. Useful resources to consult are the USCIS Handbook and the I9 central page.