How’s your I-9 compliance? If this question makes you pause, or if you say to yourself, “I think it’s ok,” or if you aren’t worried at all because your I-9s are all completed and sitting safely inside your personnel files — you might want to think again.

In fiscal year 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) delivered nearly 6,500 notices of inspections and assessed $14.3 million in fines, penalties, and forfeitures.  Fines, penalties, and forfeitures for what you may ask?  We’ll tell you.

These are some common violations that companies do (or forget to do) when completing the I-9 process:

  • Section 1 (Employee Information & Attestation):
    • No category of employment authorization designated (no box was checked or multiple boxes were checked)
    • No signature by the new hire attesting under penalty of perjury that they are authorized to work lawfully in the United States
  • Section 2 (Employer/Authorized Representative Review & Verification):
    • No document entries or entries for invalid documents, contrary to the List of Acceptable Documents
    • No or only partial document numbers or expiration dates for documents presented
    • No printed name of the employer/authorized representative
    • No compliant signature of the employer/authorized representative (i.e. use of a signature stamp)
    • No attestation confirming that the employer/authorized representative reviewed the documents presented and verified identity and employment eligibility

Notice that all of these are clerical errors.  Simple, small, possibly inadvertent clerical errors.  You may think this is no big deal, but the company that was audited thinks it’s a big deal – to the tune of a $1.5 million fine.  Imagine what the cost would be for inadvertently hiring people illegally or knowingly accepting falsified documents.

I-9 compliance has changed over the past several years.  Document verification, hard copy and electronic storage (FYI, the I-9 doesn’t belong in the personnel file), and even the form itself is being updated. 

I-9 compliance can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Conducting a self-audit is good, but you don’t want the same person who completed the forms, auditing the forms. Best practice is to have a check and balance when it comes to file audits. Additionally, these audits can be time consuming and most HR departments are focused on other things, like recruiting, workplace investigations, etc. and may not have the time or resources to conduct an audit themselves.

If you are concerned about I-9 compliance, NAE is here to help.  We have experienced HR professionals who can perform an I-9 audit for you. Contact us to discuss how to take advantage of this vital member benefit.