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What are the Top Mistakes Employers Make When Completing the I-9?

September 8, 2022


September 8, 2022

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The onboarding process is one of the most important experiences employees will ever have. It can either create a sense of welcome and excitement for the new employee, or it can show them how unorganized and ill prepared an employer is for their hire.

The process often involves everything from New Hire Orientation, completing payroll processing forms and the I-9, to role training and staff meet-and-greets. One of the most common challenges People and Operations teams face is completing the I-9, a federal form required to verify the work eligibility for every U.S. hire.

Once a candidate becomes a new hire, that is just the beginning – now we move from attracting talent to retaining talent. A major key to employee retention is career development. Employees want to work for employers who are invested in their growth.

In fact, “a lack of career growth opportunities is often one of the main reasons people quit their jobs: 63% of U.S. workers who quit their jobs last year cited a lack of advancement opportunities as one of the main reasons for their departure, according to one poll from Pew Research Center, which surveyed nearly 10,000 Americans in February 2022.”

Verifying an employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S. is a large responsibility that is placed on the backs of P+O teams, authorized representatives, and notaries across the nation. With new updates to the form and limited training available, it is common that employers make the following top mistakes when seeking to confirm their new hire’s eligibility.

1. Ignoring the Deadlines

Employees may complete Section 1 of the I-9 prior to the time of hire, but not before the employer extends the job offer and the employee accepts. Once the employee has started to work for pay or remuneration, the employer may then review Section 1 and the employee’s document(s). The employer must fully complete Section 2 within three business days of the new hire’s start date. If the employer is unable to complete Section 2 within three business days of hiring, a reason for delay must be noted on the Form I-9, and this must be done prior to E-Verification. Employers who use paper I-9 forms may need to attach an additional form.

2. Accepting Unacceptable Documents

Although the I-9 includes a list of acceptable documents on page three, many professionals fail to review the document prior to filling it out. The employer may be fearful of missing the three-day deadline, or they may not have provided their new hire with an accurate list of acceptable documents for verifying their identity and work authorization.

As a best practice, employers should provide new hires with a complete list of acceptable (list A, B, and C) documents prior to their first day so they can prepare. Additionally, because untrained professionals may not be able to identify fraudulent or unacceptable documents, it is advisable that you only allow trained staff to complete Section 2 of the I-9.

3. Improper Field Completion

There are several fields on the form, and compliant data entry is critical. When processing Section 2, the employer should carefully review each field, ensuring the accuracy & completion of both sections – including personally identifiable information, residency type, document numbers, issuing authorities, dates, signatures, and check boxes. Additionally, employers must attest to document originality & authenticity when completing the I-9.

4. Non-Compliant Storage

Employers have the option of processing I-9’s manually or digitally. If the employer is processing digital versions of the I-9, this should be done through a secure server, and all documentation must be retained by the employer throughout their talents’ employment for a time period of three years after the date-of-hire or for one year after the date of termination, whichever is longer.

5. Audit

Whether an employer is processing paper or digital I-9’s, all forms, addendums, list documents, further action notices, referral records, and reports should be stored by the employer on-site or in a storage facility as long as they are locked and can be accessed within three business days of inspection from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

How Can These Mistakes Be Easily Avoided?

Onboarding a new hire can be an exciting experience both for the hire and the company. It is a chance to embrace a new company culture, meet leaders of a strong organization, and learn the key attributes of the top talent on the market. However, when forms like the I 9 verification feel daunting and are completed by untrained professionals, the experience ascends into confusion.

Take the guesswork out of compliance and partner with professionals like Crimcheck who know employment law and stay current on updates and revisions so that we can ensure your company is providing a white glove experience for new hires.

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