I-9 Enforcement Not Just a Border Issue

I-9 Enforcement has Employers Nationwide in the Hot Seat.

I-9 worksite enforcement more than quadrupled in FY 2018, as compared to FY 2017. That’s according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data. And it’s not just in the border states. In fact, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) tracking showed nearly twice as many ICE actions in Chicago than in Miami in 2017-2018.

Paper I-9s Can Be a Risk

Business owners should also know that an estimated 60-80% of paper I-9s are missing, incomplete or have errors, according to an industry expert with the law firm Jackson Lewis. According to Brian Elfrink, Director of I-9 product management at Equifax Workforce Solutions, one common error is simply not having a completed I-9 on file. “Employers may have completed the form, but either lost or misplaced it,” he commented. “ICE can fine an employer for not having a Form I-9 for current, and some former employees.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, employers must have a completed I-9 on file for all employees hired after November 6, 1986, as well as keep Form I-9 for terminated employees for:

  • Three years after the hire date
  • Or one year after the termination date, whichever date is later

Elfrink also shared five other common Form I-9 errors that employers should keep in mind. “When we complete an electronic remediation program for an employer, we tend to see similar errors pop up,” he said. Those include:

  • Accepting incomplete employee personal information in Section 1
  • Omitting employee personal information at the top of Section 2
  • Missing employee signatures
  • Forgetting to check the preparer/translator box in Section 1
  • Completing the Form I-9 outside of the statutory time requirements. Section 1 of Form I-9 must be completed on or before the first day of work for pay. And the employer must sign and date Section 2 within three business days of the hire date

“Employers need to understand that the integrity of their employment records is just as important to the federal government as the integrity of their tax files and banking records,” said acting deputy director for Homeland Security Investigations, Derek N. Benner, last year.

Get the HR Checklist for I-9 Enforcement

This checklist can help your human resources personnel prepare for this increased enforcement. It provides information on:

  • What to include in your I-9 Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
  • Why training for Section 2 Completers is essential
  • How you should get started today with a self-audit