The I-9 is a pain to fill out, especially for as many employees as staffing firms have, but the fines that can come from incorrect I-9 processes are a lot more painful. So we’ve all got to bring our A game for I-9s.
The fines for I-9 mishaps can range from a low of $110 per form for failing to comply with I-9 requirements or something called “document abuse” up to $6,500 per worker for committing or participating in document fraud, if it’s your third offense. And that’s all independent of whether or not the folks you hired are authorized to work in the U.S.
Because these fines are per worker or per form, as staffing companies, we need to keep a close eye on them and make sure our I-9 processes are accurate, consistent and executed flawlessly every time.
Here are some potential I-9 pitfalls and how to avoid them:
- Having the employee fill out the form too soon. Yes, it’s a pain to bring them back in to fill out the form after an offer has been made. But unless you do, you’re failing to comply with I-9 requirements, so that’s anywhere from $110 to $1,100 per worker.
- Letting Section 1 or Section 2 go incomplete. Yes, you’d have to call the employee back in if something was left incomplete in Section 1, but again, consider the fine you could be charged.
- Not getting enough documentation. A driver’s license all by itself isn’t going to cut it, and when you’re reviewing and inspecting the documents, whether they’re List A, B or C, be sure to see if any additional information is required about them, such as number or expiration date.
- Getting too much documentation. This is an interesting one. You might be tempted to get as many documents as possible on the record, but doing so is considered “an unfair immigration-related employment practice if made for the purpose or with the intent of discriminating against an individual,” according to the Immigration and Nationality Act. So get the information you need—but no more.
- Using an old form. If you’ve got one of those scratchy-looking, PDF-from-a-scan-of-an-old-form-looking versions of the I-9, get rid of it now. Throw all copies in the recycling bin, and delete the PDFs from your hard drive. Get the new form here, and make it the standard for all your offices and branches.
If you’ve made any of these errors and want to make corrections, this is a fantastic article about the best (and worst) ways to go about it.
And for more information than you’ve ever wanted about the I-9, visit the official US Citizenship and Immigration Services portal, I-9 Central.