I-9 Compliance: A Smart Solution for an Overlooked Process


Ask any HR executive about their I-9 process and their eyes begin to water before they can spit the words out. Names spelled wrong, social security numbers don’t match, proper identification isn’t verified. Let’s face it, it’s a time consuming process that often is executed incorrectly and the penalties for lax policies are scary. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 mandates that US employers verify the employment eligibility status of new employees. Until recently, this was accomplished most typically by examining a few pieces of identification while hoping the ID documents were authentic, entering the relevant information on the I-9 form, and filing it away in the employee file. It was pretty much forgotten at this point unless and until the government decided to audit your I-9 files to make sure you were not employing illegal workers. Still, many employers are fined for incorrectly filling out the I-9, even though they are employing legal workers. There was no external oversight or feasible process available to gain assurance that you are indeed employing legal workers, or gain the peace of mind that your documentation was all in order every time.

What Can You Do?

Fortunately, this problem is common to all organizations and now employeescreenIQ offers Employment Eligibility Verification and Electronic I-9 Filing through our partnership with Form I-9 Compliance LLC. These tools can reduce your workload and keep you in compliance. The product that Form I-9 has developed allows employers the ability to fill out a “smart” I-9 form on-line that ensures it is filled out completely and correctly. From there, an employer can simply store the document in an on-line archive or can seamlessly and electronically verify employment eligibility instantly through the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Within moments the system will give you a confirmation of the employee’s eligibility or it will indicate a non-confirmation. In occurrences of non-confirmation, the system will walk the employer step by step through the error and illustrate how to resolve the issue. Some of the common issues may be resolved with a few keystrokes. Others require follow-up from both you and your employee; the Form I-9 system will send you regular reminders indicating the number of days your employee has to resolve the non-confirmation. If the non-confirmed employee fails to respond through the appropriate channels within the legally mandated grace period, or if employment eligibility is ultimately found ineligible for employment, the system will indicate that the employee must be terminated. You may continue to employ workers who have received the initial non-confirmation until their employment eligibility has been confirmed through these channels.

The system can also be used for re-verifications, such as when an individual legally changes their name or when a foreign employee’s Green Card expires and is re-issued. The system will track and notify you of upcoming expiration dates for workers without permanent authorization.

Realize Instant Measurable Benefits

The Form I-9 system produces instant results. It will allow your organization to improve the efficiency of your process while decreasing, in fact eliminating processing errors. Further, it will allow you to minimize risk as it relates to non-compliance and the expenses incurred as a result of non-compliance. Lastly, it can aid your organization’s transition to a paperless environment with a reliable archival system.

Why Is I-9 Compliance Important?

As mentioned above, the penalties for non-compliance even with the absence of intent to circumvent the process are strict:

  • For employers who fail to properly complete, retain, or make I-9 Forms available for inspection, fines range from $100 to $1,100 per individual I-9.
  • For employers who knowingly hire or knowingly continue to employ unauthorized workers, civil penalties range from $250 to $11,000 per violation.
  • For employers engaging in a pattern or practice of knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized workers, fines can be as much as $3,000 per employee and/or 6 months of imprisonment.

How Can You Take Advantage of this Product?

Contact your employeescreenIQ representative to schedule a demonstration of this revolutionary product or visit our Partners page a click on the Form I-9 icon for further information.

Quick Tips for I-9 Compliance

  • Did you know that you have to see the approved original identification documents in person in order to certify authenticity? Facsimile documents can be accepted.
  • Did you know that the I-9 form must be completed within the three business days that your employee begins work?
  • Did you know that employers must retain the original I-9 form for each employee either for three (3) years after the date of hire, or one (1) year after employment is terminated, whichever is later?

Nick Fishman is Executive Vice President of Cleveland-based employeescreenIQ, a best practices provider of pre-employment screening services throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Nick can be reached at (800) 235-3954 ext. 441 or nfishman@employeescreen.com.