I-9 audits are frightening because I-9s can become huge liabilities if your organization improperly completes, files, or administers them. With the latest immigration crackdown under way, it's crucial for you to make your I-9 administration and E-verify processes run smoothly and in a legally safe way so you can stay in compliance. Verifying employment eligibility is one of HR's most vital tasks in the hiring process.
Preparing I-9 Audits: Commonly Asked I-9 Questions
I-9 audits are frightening because I-9s can become huge liabilities if your organization improperly completes, files, or administers them. With the latest immigration crackdown under way, it’s crucial for you to make your I-9 administration and E-verify processes run smoothly and in a legally safe way so you can stay in compliance. Verifying employment eligibility is one of HR’s most vital tasks in the hiring process.
In a recent BLR webinar, Jim Alexander and John Nahajzer outlined how to properly complete the I-9 form, how to use E-Verify, and what to expect during Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audits. Alexander and Nahajzer answered participant questions after the webinar, several of which are summarized here.
Q. We have employees that are in the field out-of-state. They do not normally come into the office for months after starting. How do you suggest we verify their original documentation that accompanies the I-9 form?
A. This is a very common issue. You need to find an agent who would be willing to complete the I-9 on your behalf when this process is done remotely. You’re not supposed to accept photocopies, no matter how far-flung your operations might be.
Q. Can you use Section 3 of the I-9 form for employee name changes?
A. Yes you may. The other thing you can do, though it’s not required, is to list the new name in Section 1. That is definitely what Section 3 is meant to be used for.
Q. If you complete an I-9 for a temporary employee, do you have to recomplete it when they become permanent?
A. If we’re talking about someone on a visa who was previously a temporary employee, and has now become a permanent US resident, gets their green card and becomes an permanent employee, we would recommend that you reverify the employment eligibility upon receipt of the green card.
If, however, by temporary you mean a part-time or short-term worker moving to full-time or long-term status, then the answer is no. There’s no need to take a new I-9 when they change that status. You do not have to take a new I-9 for someone who is rehired as long as the rehire took place within 3 years of the original I-9. The exception is if the person’s original work authorization has expired.
Q. If we have I-9s where the employee signed above the line in Section 1, do we need to note that and make a correction?
A. This type of issue that may not be worth addressing since it is not technically a compliance issue – the form is in fact signed, just slightly off of the intended space. You will need to make a judgment call, but this is not an issue of compliance.
Bonus question: The I-9 form has an expiration date of August 31, 2012. What should I do?
For more information on the proper completion of the I-9 form and preparations for I-9 audits, order the webinar recording of "From I-9 to E-Verify: How to Master HR’s Newest Immigration Challenges." To register for a future webinar, visit http://catalog.blr.com/audio.
Attorneys John Nahajzer and Jim Alexander are the managing shareholders of Maggio & Kattar, P.C., the largest boutique immigration law firm in Washington, D.C. Each has unique expertise in counseling clients on corporate business immigration issues, including corporate compliance, E-Verify, and Social Security No-Match.