Ever since President Trump was elected into office, anti immigration laws have been a top priority for many in the Administration. In 2018 alone, an average of 4,000 illegal aliens are arrested each month by ICE. Seeking to eliminate the popular promise of employment that often draws immigrants across borders, over 5,000 I-9 audits have been conducted over the first 7 months of the year.
For this reason, it’s now more imperative than ever that businesses complete their I-9 forms for each new employee to ensure they’re an eligible worker, as one thing has been made clear: ICE is cracking down.
How to Protect Your Business
Perhaps the easiest way to protect your business in the event of an audit or ICE raid, is to double check all I-9s on file to ensure they’re accurate, fully completed, and up-to-date.
Many companies inaccurately view I-9s as a mere formality, attributing to the employee belief that it’s only another paper to sign and thereby unimportant. But as an I-9 audit can lead to hefty fees, it’s vital businesses ensure that all forms are signed, filed, and submitted correctly.
Some of the more common I-9 mistakes businesses make are:
• Forgetting to re-verify employee work authorization with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) after submitting an I-9;
• Re-verifying green card holders;
• Not completing the I-9 in time (Section 1 must be filled by the employee no later than the end of the first workday, and Section 2 entered by the employer a maximum of 3 days after the employee starts work);
• Leaving a box blank on the form, even if its not applicable; and
• Keeping an I-9 on file longer than necessary (I-9 forms must be stored for 3 years from employment, or 1 year after termination – whichever lasts longer).
Protect your business by training your staff to properly fill out and file I-9s, and be sure to emphasize its importance to new employees!
Thanks to the technological age, employers now have the opportunity to electronically submit their I-9s and receive employment authorization online using E-Verify – something that is mandatory for federal contractors and in some states.
For many businesses, there are a few pros and cons though. The pros including:
• Employment verification is made easier and faster;
• While not qualifying as a “safe harbor” measure, it is considered to be a “rebuttal presumption” that the unauthorized employee was not knowingly hired;
• Social Security mismatch letters are a rare occurrence thanks to E-verify; and
• Training costs are reduced by minimizing re-hires due to employee eligibility.
Similarly, the cons can include:
• The use of E-Verify permits government access to your workplace, along with periodic audits, under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU);
• It can’t pick up on identity fraud;
• While saving on training costs as mentioned above, it could even out as additional training will be needed to understand proper use and submission of E-Verify;
• Information given through E-Verify is shared between multiple government agencies; and
• Errors in employee authorization can occur occasionally within the system.
While E-Verify isn’t perfect, it’s still incredibly useful and thought by many to soon become mandatory across the nation.
So, if you’re an employer looking to protect your business and be ahead of the curve, regularly self-audit your I-9s, and consider using E-Verify in conjunction with your hiring process.