Clients across the industries we serve continually tell us about labor shortages they are facing.  Even when conditions are perfect, recruiting, hiring, and retaining qualified employees is a big task for business owners.

Let’s say you have a qualified job candidate that’s accepted your job offer.  Now what?  There are many answers to that question.

Federal I-9 Compliance is Often Overlooked During Onboarding

In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act, or IRCA, was enacted.  This legislation – including Form I-9 – is used to verify the identity and legal authorization of all paid employees throughout the country.

In the following article, we’ll walk through some tips and best practices for staying in compliance with I-9 regulations.  These regulations are complex in nature.  If you have questions about your individual situation or would like to learn more, contact your Adams Brown advisor.

Tips for I-9 Compliance

  • Tip #1 Some documents are better than others when it comes to Employment Eligibility Verification.  Page three of the USCIS Form I-9 provides a cumulative list of acceptable documents.  Please note that all documents must be unexpired.  Communicating this list with your new hire(s) enables them to bring in the proper documentation and streamline your process.
  • Tip #2You can’t tell them which documents to bring. As mentioned above, there are several documents your new hire(s) can present to fulfill the needs of the Form I-9, but as employers, we cannot tell them which to use. Requesting specific documentation can lead to perceived discriminatory actions.
  • Tip #3 When in doubt, keep the forms.  As an employer, you are required to retain the original I-9 forms for either three years after the employee’s hire date OR one year after the employee left your business or organization – whichever is later.  For ease of tracking and access, it’s recommended that you keep I-9 forms separate from other personnel documentation.  In addition, it is recommended to retain copies of the documents presented by employees with the corresponding Form I-9.  Though, if you do this for one Form I-9, it is recommended you do this for all.
  • Tip #4 Look for external resources.  Technology is transforming the way we run businesses, and the same is true for the I-9 compliance piece of the hiring puzzle.  Technological resources at a reasonable price point are available to help you with the completion of the forms and compliance with the law.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

For many businesses, the extra assistance is worth the small investment to ensure compliance and avoid penalty fees.  According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the fine for failing to produce an I-9 form for inspection ranges from $110 to $1,100 per violation.  The penalty for knowingly hiring and continuing to employ violations range from $375 to $16,000.  Additional resources for business owners include the USCIS I-9 webpage and Handbook for Employers M-274.

What’s Next?

When you have a qualified job candidate knocking, answer the door of opportunity!  Proper preparation and onboarding will set you up for success when it comes to complying with federal regulations.  To learn more or for further discussion, contact your Adams Brown advisor.