5 Secrets I-9 Software Vendors Don’t Want You to Know

The latest reports on I-9 audits by ICE, OSC investigations and potential revisions to the I-9 Form would have any organization scrambling to get their I-9 strategy in tip-top shape. It’s a good time to start researching electronic I-9 software and separate the wheat from the chaff. Conducting a standard Request for Proposal is a good way to vet true experts from the amateurs in the I-9 arena. Though some vendors would rather you not know to inquire about these:

SECRET #1: NOT ALL LISTED CLIENTS ARE PAYING CLIENTS

One way vendors try to wow potential clients is by presenting a long list of existing clients. While this may appear impressive on the surface, it’s important to understand whether the acquisition of such clients were the result of tried and tested RFP processes, or whether the client merely “signed up” as a result of some other incentive (like price discounts). Vendors who have acquired clients as a result of being selected from a rigorous RFP processes usually indicates the software product has surpassed all competitors and meets all of the client’s needs. On the other hand, clients who have received the software product for free, or at a significantly discounted (i.e.: loss leader) price speaks little to the software product’s capabilities and more to the vendor’s ability to discount its products. (Read the cautionary story here.) Where I-9 compliance is concerned, the government places the onus on the employer to conduct its due diligence.

SECRET #2: PROVIDING AN I-9 ELECTRONIC SOLUTION IS JUST A SIDE-BUSINESS

There are many software vendors providing one form of I-9 audit software, electronic I-9 software, E-Verify integrated software or a combination of all three types. If you’ve been following this blog for the past few years, you’ll know that I-9 and E-Verify compliance is constantly changing on all fronts. Staying up-to-date requires constant monitoring and analysis. A vendor whose primary service is providing other solutions (like payroll, HR administration or benefits or ATS) unrelated to I-9 laws and immigration compliance may not have the internal know-how or resources to keep that software compliant. Therefore, select I-9 vendors for an RFP process wisely!

SECRET #3: MANAGEMENT DOES NOT EMPLOY IMMIGRATION OR EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEYS

Why would employing in-house attorneys to provide guidance drafting software that complies with the law matter when it comes to I-9 and E-Verify? The government has stated many times that an employer will be held responsible for the deficiencies in the software it selects. In theory, this means non-compliant software could render all I-9 Forms entered into that software invalid! Moreover, in the event of an ICE audit where employers are given three days to produce documents, an I-9 software vendor with an in-house team of attorneys will be better equipped to assist employers in generating the right type of I-9 audit documents immediately. Without the proper in-house legal guidance, I-9 vendors may be crafting software in the dark, unfamiliar with the complex laws and regulations. Furthermore, when time is of the essence during an audit, knowing whether the vendor has the internal capability of producing the right audit documents is critical.

SECRET #4: EXPERTISE IS NOT HOMEGROWN

When it comes to I-9 and E-Verify laws, analysis, and discussions, you’ll find a lot of information on the internet. In particular, you’ll find this blog contains helpful articles, links, and legislation maps that are all provided for free to the public. In fact, employers can even attend free webinars that are produced regularly by LawLogix. All of this free information requires time, expertise and analysis, all produced by a team of in-house attorneys who have networked and partnered with experienced immigration and employment attorneys, leaving room for a company to make the ultimate decisions. The original content provides value to the general public and it’s all homegrown. As an unintended effect, it has been a popular source of information for other I-9 vendors. It makes you wonder how other I-9 vendors are translating this knowledge to better relate and serve their clients, if at all.

SECRET #5: CRITICAL KEY EMPLOYEES HAVE LEFT THE COMPANY

It’s no secret that in today’s employment climate, employees may come and go. What happens when high level executives, top managers or key engineers have left your I-9 vendor? How will the loss of those critical team members affect the service level for its clients? Does it signify a deeper issue that raises questions of the software vendor’s leadership or financial stability? If the software vendor is challenged with long term financial or leadership instability, how would it affect client service and product development in the future? While company executives would seldom provide a clear answer on these issues, if it appears top leadership has been replaced, this is one secret worth exploring.