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Form I-9 & E-Verify For Dummies Blog Series 3: Getting a Grip on Form I-9 Compliance

There are several incessant worries in the realm of I-9 compliance that bother even the most experienced HR manager among us. These are the types of problems with no easy solution and no playbook to consult. These are the issues that you write down in a notebook alongside a big question mark and hope for divine intervention. Or maybe just a timely and cogent policy FAQ.

In that regard, we began a four-part blog series in December on our Form I-9 & E-Verify For Dummies ebook, a short guide designed to highlight the most important considerations in completing our favorite 2-page form. You can read (or revisit) parts 1 and 2 of the series here:

Series 1: Common Mistakes of Completing Section 1 and 2 and How to Avoid Them

Series 2: What You Should Know About Reverifying, Updating and Retaining Documents

In our third installment, we are going to tackle two of the biggest headaches in I-9 compliance – completing I-9s for remote employees and fixing mistakes on old I-9s. In addition, we’ll also briefly touch upon a smart option for automating the Form I-9 process altogether.

The Remote I-9 Conundrum

If you think about the Form I-9 completion and reverification process outlined in blog series 1 and blog series 2, you’ll recall that employers must physically examine an employee’s documents in the presence of the employee. Sounds easy enough, until you hire someone on the other side of the country who has no plans to visit the home office anytime soon. Fortunately, the I-9 regulations allow you to use a representative to act on your behalf – meeting with the employee, reviewing documents, and completing Section 2 of the Form I-9.  

But, who can (or should) take on this tricky task for you? Technically, it can be anyone who is acting in the interests of the employer (a pretty broad spectrum indeed). In practice, employers will typically choose individuals who are already familiar with the I-9 process or just generally comfortable with handling paperwork. Regardless of who you choose, experts agree that there are several components (necessities really) for handling remote I-9s:

  1. A well-crafted policy for choosing representatives (including examples)
  2. Clear instructions for both the employee and representative on how to complete their portions of the Form I-9
  3. A defined review process to spot and correct mistakes

Employers should also strongly consider using an electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify compliance solution with multiple remote verification options to remove some of this guesswork while also helping to ensure compliance and standardization.


I-9 Remediation

One of the most common questions we receive from HR today goes something like this…”I just started working in the HR department of my company and I inherited an I-9 disaster. How do I go about fixing these past mistakes?”

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. According to federal officials, as many as 76 percent of the paper I-9 forms in filing cabinets contain some kind of error. And if you consider the number of new hires in the US on an annual basis, you’ll quickly come to realize that there is a LOT of potential I-9 liability lurking in your employee files.   

And while the idea of going back through and correcting thousands of paper records likely sounds on par with root canal, there are several time-saving options available for remediating I-9s through the use of smart electronic I-9 solutions. Learn more about remediation options here.

If your organization is ready to evaluate your I-9 risks, a great place to begin is with an analysis of your historical I-9s. Whether you do this internally or hire outside help, the process begins with a review of ALL I-9s for errors and omissions. Check out this webinar for a few handy self-auditing tips. Once this is complete you can calculate your potential liability exposure and develop a game plan for fixing the problem and avoiding errors in the future.

Automating the Form I-9 Process

An increasing number of employers are now choosing to automate their I-9 program using a smart (and integrated) I-9 and E-Verify software application. Although there are many types of solutions in the market today, employers are well advised to choose a provider who specializes in I-9 and immigration compliance (rather than an organization that simply adds an I-9/E-Verify component to their offering).

A well-designed I-9 and E-Verify application generally has the following characteristics:

  • Designed with the electronic I-9 regulations in mind
  • Routinely recommended by immigration attorneys
  • Handles complex hiring scenarios, including remote hires
  • Comprehensive error-checking
  • Conservative interpretation (and application) of electronic signatures, document selection, and automation (where applicable)
  • Capable of integrating with virtually any onboarding system
  • Promotes a positive onboarding experience for new employees

To learn how Guardian meets/exceeds these requirements, please visit our Guardian page here.

Ready for more? Be on the lookout for our last article in the Form I-9 & E-Verify For Dummies 4 part blog series, coming in March.  And, if you haven’t already done so, be sure to download the Form I-9 & E-Verify For Dummies eBook.

About John Fay

John Fay is an immigration attorney and technologist with a deep applied knowledge of I-9 compliance and E-Verify rules and procedures. During his career, John has advised human resource managers and executives on a wide variety of corporate immigration compliance issues, including the implementation of electronic I-9 systems. In his current role, John serves as President at the LawLogix division of Hyland Software, Inc., where he oversees all aspects of the division’s operations and provides strategic leadership and direction in the development and support of Form I-9, E-Verify, and immigration case management software solutions.

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