Currently across the country, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is increasing I-9 audits. Would you know what to do to prepare if you received an audit notice? There are some important steps to take to ensure you have all necessary documentation on file for your employees. Form I-9 is an Employment Eligibility Verification document that all employers must have on file for each employee hired after November 6, 1986. It is up to the employer to ensure the form is completed timely and correctly.
Section 1 of the form needs to be filled out by the employee indicating personal identifying information (name, address, date of birth, etc.) and must be signed and dated by the employee.
Section 2 of the form needs to be filled out by the employer documenting which evidence of identity the employee has provided. There is a List of Acceptable Documents on the last page of Form I-9 for employers to reference to ensure they are receiving acceptable documents. It is important to realize there are 3 columns on the list (A, B and C). To be completed accurately, you should have unexpired proof from either column A or columns B and C. These identification documents are not required to be photocopied but if the employer chooses to do so, they must do so for all new hires and retain with the Form I-9. The employer must also sign and print their name, title, company name, and date on the form.
Lastly, Section 3 must be completed by the employer only when updating or re-verifying information such as an employee name change or rehiring within three years of the form’s original date.
Once Form I-9 has been completed, it must be retained by the employer for three years after the hire date or one year after employment ends, whichever is longer. Electronic records are an acceptable method as well. Generally, it would be our recommendation to keep current employees forms with their employee file, and any former employees all together in a file, as an audit will not be limited to current employees. To be prepared for an ICE audit you should review all Form I-9s you have on file for current employees and correct any errors or discrepancies. If there are any necessary corrections, the employee and employer must initial and date by the correction and white out cannot be used.If there are any missing Form I-9s, a new form must be completed and cannot be back-dated.
It is typical for ICE to request Form I-9s for current employees and terminated employees within the last year. They might also request an employee list, payroll documents, and business owner information. Failure to have properly completed I-9s can lead to significant penalties on a per form basis. Therefore it is extremely important for employers to be completing these accurately and completely to avoid these issues. For further information, employers can reference the USCIS Handbook for Employers located at www.uscis.gov or contact the team at Ketel Thorstenson with any questions.