Whether you are a small business owner or someone in HR within a larger company, understanding and complying with all of the regulations and rules can be difficult and even overwhelming. The I-9 Form is one of these seemingly-simple-yet-deceptively-confusing forms.
The good news is that such mistakes are totally avoidable. So, how do you handle the I-9 Form in the most efficient way possible? Are there processes you can integrate into your workflow that will help with accuracy and speed?
Each section of the I-9 Form has specific requirements and rules that must be met. Here’s a rundown on what those rules are, and suggestions for making compliance and completing the process easy.
The rules. The rules for section one are relatively simple — the offer must be accepted prior, the section cannot be auto-filled (even if your system auto-populates other forms), and the candidate cannot upload photo IDs to allow the recruiter to complete Section 2 remotely (this is highly illegal).
Make it easy. The key to meeting the requirements and rules of Section 1 is to simplify. Think about it in terms of the TurboTax experience — everything should be easy to understand and just as easy to complete.
Also, be sure to validate your data to eliminate errors. Just because you can’t autofill doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the system to cross-reference your inputs and validate them. Another way to improve the simplicity of Section 1 is to provide helpful images and text. Show people what the form looks like, what is required, and where they need to get information from to eliminate potential errors.
The rules. The second section of the I-9 Form deals primarily with verification. There are, of course, a few key rules that must be followed when verifying, including that the candidate must choose their own verification documents, e-verification requires photos (which can be limiting), and verification documentation must be done within three business days of the candidate’s first day.
Make it easy. I-9 Forms don’t have to be difficult, and Section 2 is no exception. You can make it easy by following three simple steps to normalize the workflow.
The rules. I-9 Forms can use remote authorization to be completed, but there are a few things to keep in mind if taking this route. While the remote authorizer can be anyone, and the approval and rejection log can be set for Section 2, you are ultimately liable. Whoever is signing is doing so on your behalf, meaning you are liable if there is an issue with ICE.
Make it easy. One of the best ways to make any task easier — especially those performed remotely—is simply to include instructions. Send a link to the remote authorizer with clear directions to follow. Accompanying those directions should be a mobile-responsive system. 90% of people will attempt to access such forms via cellphone. Don’t forget to include an internal audit queue for validation, too.
The rules. While it is sometimes easier to just redo the I-9 than bother with Section 3, there are a few rules you should know in case you find yourself face-to-face with it.
Reverification really comes down to people with work permits, meaning you do not need to worry about reverifying US Passports and other such documents. If you do need to reverify, you must do so before a work permit expires. If you choose to rehire someone within three years of their I-9 being completed, you can either redo the I-9 or reverify. It is easier to just complete the I-9 again.
Make it easy. Set up your workflow so that expiring document notifications are automatically shared. You will also want to automatically send Section 3 once an expiring document has been identified. Make it easy to access signed documents outside of auditing to expedite and simplify this process.
The rules. The word “audit” doesn’t need to strike fear. Sure, there are rules, but they don’t have to be intimidating, just understood!
You must store data for three years from the date of hire or one year after the end of employment. Your audit trail must include a date and time stamp (with IP address), the action taken in the document, and a unique identifier (candidate A, B, and so on). All stored information must meet minimum security quality assurance standards.
Make it easy. The best route to making audit protocols easy is to standardize, simplify, and automate. Start by standardizing your file structure and document indexing. This will help you stay organized and match up documents to audit trails more easily. Next, provide auditors with secure auditing access so they can safely and easily access and download information themselves. Finally, you will want to automate your purging schedules, both paper and digital.
A common question is whether you can store copies of identification documents with the I-9 or if they need to be filed and stored separately. The answer is simple — the I-9 should be stored separately. You can use certain platforms, such as Able, to automatically store photos of IDs as separate files, making your workflow (and your life) much easier!
There is no doubt that the sheer number of documents and forms you have to deal with can be overwhelming, especially when the pressures of time and potential consequences are attached to them. It is better to be preemptive than deal with the potential consequences, which can include hefty fines. We hope these simple steps have helped provide some insight into how you can more effectively handle and complete I-9 Forms for your business.