Per the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), U.S. employers have been required to establish the employment eligibility of all employees hired since November 1986. In recent years, the federal government has come to enforce employment eligibility verification procedures with increasing zeal. This has resulted not only in increased I-9 audits, but also workplace raids, and increasing pressure upon employers to enroll in the E-Verify database system.
Complicating matters, the Form I-9 itself is deceptively simple. Even the most well-intentioned HR personnel can commit technical errors when completing the I-9 form. If discovered upon government audit, such technical "paperwork" errors can result in fines of up to $1100 per I-9 form, even where the employee completing the I-9 form is a U.S. worker.
Fortunately, recent rules allowing for electronic completion and storage of the Form I-9 make it easier for outside immigration counsel to help companies ensure that its I-9s are properly completed, securely stored, and timely purged. With our advanced web-deployed technologies, we can now integrate both I-9 completion and E-Verify review in one simple software solution.
Jackson & Hertogs has decades of experience helping companies develop and maintain their I-9 compliance programs. We offer a wide range of I-9 services, including:
- educational webinars on I-9 compliance techniques
- customized I-9 program creation and maintenance
- internal reviews of existing I-9 files and procedures, followed by detailed recommendations for training HR personnel
- assistance with government audits of I-9 files
- electronic storage of existing I-9 files while
- assistance in managing the move to electronic I-9s for completion and storage
- assistance with responding to SSA "no-match" letters, which can be a precursor to a wider I-9 audit
Electronic I-9 completion
When conducting internal audits of Forms I-9 for our clients, we have found that "technical" errors (also known as "paperwork violations") are frequent. During government I-9 audits even technical errors on Form I-9 will result in substantial penalties being imposed on employers, even if the employee was lawfully authorized to work in the United States, and even if the I-9 is connected to a U.S. citizen.
By using an electronic I-9 solution, your company can limit the risk of an employee making technical (or worse, substantive) I-9 errors. This is because electronic I-9 systems allow for instant review of Forms I-9 for accuracy. Jackson & Hertogs uses LawLogix’s Gaurdian system which boasts the added feature of an escalation to our firm so that we can readily assist to either perform corrections, or provide direction you company how to correct I-9 errors. In addition, we can run and analyze regular I-9 reports which function as internal audits. Finally, we can analyze how I-9s are being performed throughout your company, advising on corrective action for any systemic problems we might identify.
The advantages to utilizing more sophisticated electronic I-9 software, include the following internal online tools that work in real time to:
- help spot data entry errors (such as failing to complete necessary fields, or requesting excessive information),
- provide data to identify I-9 errors that require correction, and
- include "reminder" functions for reverification of I-9s as needed.
An electronic I-9 process can also facilitate data sharing with the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) E-Verify system, which is used to verify the employment authorization of new hires.
Why is integration of I-9 software solutions with E-Verify important?
The E-Verify program is a DHS system deployed over the Internet that is designed to provide electronic verification of the employment authorization of hires. The E-Verify system checks both Social Security Administration and DHS databases to confirm the employment authorization of new hires. Cases of initial non-verification, can involve significantly more HR time to complete the employment verification process. As worksite enforcement actions have become more common, employers have enrolled in E-Verify as a preventative measure to limit the risk that they have employed an unauthorized worker. State and local legislation has also fueled the growth of E-Verify enrollment, as certain states have required either all employers or certain state contractors to enroll in E-Verify.
In June 2008, the President signed an Executive Order requiring most federal contractors to enroll in the E-Verify program as a condition for federal contracts. In addition to using E-Verify to confirm employment authorization for all new hires, federal contractors are required to re-verify existing hires who will work on a federal contract.
If and when your company should enroll in E-Verify, the company must obtain E-Verify clearance only for all new hires. E-Verify processing would need to be incorporated into your new hire intake process, along with completion of Forms I-9. Your company can prepare for an easier transition by converting to electronic I-9s, using a vendor that is an authorized 3rd party agent for E-Verify. This would avoid duplicate data entry and reduce the risk of E-Verify errors.
How could Jackson & Hertogs support an outsourced I-9 process for your company?
Jackson & Hertogs offers different customized models of support, depending upon your company's individual needs. For example, your company can complete an initial I-9 for every new hire, using our software solution. Should a question arise regarding, for example, the validity of an esoteric document used for I-9 compliance, your HR staff can escalate that question to one of our attorneys, simply by clicking a button in the I-9 software. This would expedite the resolution of I-9 questions and problems.
Jackson & Hertogs can also work with you to track I-9s requiring reverification, a common occurrence with foreign personnel.
Most importantly, if your company enrolls in E-Verify, either by choice, or to comply with new federal regulations, Jackson & Hertogs could assist you in managing the E-Verify submissions through our I-9 software.
We look forward to scheduling a demonstration of how our I-9 software solutions can work for your company.