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Breaking Down I-9 Compliance Best Practices for 2018

Every employer knows that federal law requires them to have each employee complete an I-9 employment eligibility form before he or she can start working. To this end, the I-9 form verifies identity as well as the right of the new employee to work in the United States. Additionally, he or she must also provide documentation that confirms identify and citizenship.

Overlooking this step or turning in forms containing mistakes subjects the employer to large fines and penalties. It seems like it should be a straightforward process. However, verifying employee eligibility is becoming more complex all the time due to the increasing popularity of remote work.

Unfortunately, the Internal Revenue Service isn’t very forgiving with I-9 compliance mistakes. It applies a fine of $2,156 per employee for paperwork violations and up to $21,563 for companies that knowingly and continually employ an improperly documented worker.




Most Common Compliance Mistakes with I-9 Forms

The appearance of the single-page I-9 form is deceptive, because it encompasses enough rules and regulations to fill a book nearly 70 pages long. With so many things to remember, it’s easy for both employers and employees to make mistakes when completing it. The most common ones include:

  • Missing date or signature
  • Incomplete check boxes
  • Incorrect document codes relating to each specific type of identification
  • Not completing the form within 3 business days
  • Not re-verifying employment eligibility of employees with temporary citizenship status
  • Accepting invalid documentation as a form of identification
  • Improper maintenance of I-9 forms of existing employees
  • Not requesting supporting documentation for E-verify photo matching

To avoid these compliance issues, employers must know and enforce government mandates for I-9 reporting. Additionally, it’s a good idea to assign one human resources representative the task of reviewing all forms completed by another person in the department. That’s because people often don’t see their own errors. Therefore, having a person who didn’t complete the form review it can help to catch issues that might have otherwise gone undetected.



Forms an Employer Can Accept for Eligibility to Work Verification

All new employees must verify that they are who they say they are. Further, they must verify their eligibility to work for an employer in the United States. For identification purposes, employers may accept a state driver’s license, official state identification card, or a military identification card. What’s more, all forms of identification must include a current photo.

Natural citizens of the United States can prove that they have the right to work by presenting their original signed Social Security card or birth certificate. People born outside of the United States may present one of the following documents to confirm work eligibility:

  • A valid United States passport
  • Foreign passport with an I-551 stamp
  • Permanent resident card
  • Employment authorization card
  • Certification of birth abroad

It is especially important to ensure the proper documentation for workers who are in the country temporarily or who do not yet have their permanent citizenship. Keeping up with government requirements regarding new hires can be a challenge. The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services maintains a page on its website entitled I-9 Central. This page can be especially helpful for employers with questions about compliance.