I-9 Instructions For Employers

The Form I-9 has been a part of company culture for more than three decades, but one of the most frequently asked questions continues to be, “What are the I-9 instructions for employers?” Despite the form’s deceivingly simple appearance, employers are increasingly turning to additional resources such as digital I-9 software to better navigate it from start to finish. Being familiar with and closely following the I-9 instructions for employers is one of the most important steps an employer can take to achieve and maintain a compliant status.

 

Why The Form I-9 Is Necessary

In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed which mandated employers to have all employees complete a Form I-9 from that point forward. The form was designed to establish the identity of employees and determine their eligibility to work in the United States.

More than thirty years later, federal law still requires employers to have employees to fill out the Form I-9. Failure to do so could result in serious consequences for the company.

 

I-9 Instructions For Employers

The I-9 instructions for employers are listed clearly on the form itself, although additional resources such as digital I-9 software that can streamline filling out the form are also available. There are three main sections of the Form I-9, each with its own set of instructions, rules, and deadlines.

  • Section 1: This first section of the Form I-9 focuses on the collection of personal data from employees. This part of the form must be completed by the employee’s first day of employment. Employers are responsible for reviewing this part of the form for proper completion.
  • Section 2: The second section of this form requires more employee and employer participation. Employees must provide employers with a form approved document of identification. In turn the employer must review identification documents with due diligence to ensure their apparent authenticity, which can dictate the employee’s ability to work within the United States.
  • Section 3: The last section of the Form I-9 is mostly the employer’s responsibility in the event that an employee’s name is legally changed, work authorization is expired, or rehire happens within three years of the original date on the form.

Although the form may sound self-explanatory, when it comes to following all the detailed regulations and deadlines many companies find it helpful to utilize additional resources such as digital I-9 software and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Handbook for Employers M-274.

 

Could My Company Really Be Audited?

Absolutely. It is estimated that ICE worksite investigations have quadrupled in recent years. Add to that the number of audit-related arrests which have also risen, and employers should begin to realize the importance of being proactive in achieving compliance.

No employer is immune to audits, but there are some situations which could make them more susceptible to an audit, including:

  • Previous Audits. If a company is audited once by ICE, it is reasonable to suspect it could happen again. For this reason, it is important that employers make all changes recommended during an audit. In the case of a second audit, these same areas are generally the first to be looked at.
  • Mismatch Letters. If the Social Security Administration sends a company notification that a social security number does not match a person’s name, that employer could be at a greater risk of a follow up, regardless of whether the mismatch was caused by something simple such as basic human error or not.
  • Credible Tips. Although tips are sensibly vetted to ensure they are credible, individuals can tip off Homeland Security authorities via phone or online. While theoretically these tips can come from a number of different places, on average they are most frequently from former disgruntled employees, current disgruntled employees, and discontented competitors.
  • Government Agency Red Flags. In this case, a government agency could flag a company if it is suspected or documented that the company has a situation with issues such as equal opportunity employment or wage investigation.

 

Consequences For Not Being I-9 Compliant

The consequences for being found not compliant during an ICE worksite investigation or audit can be steep. Offenses are generally classified as civil or criminal in nature and are assigned on a case by case basis. This means if the same mistake is made on twenty employees’ Form I-9s, it will most likely result in twenty different violations.

Civil violations are usually document-based and pertain to forms that are incomplete, signatures that are missing, or deadlines that have been missed. While these can be fairly common human errors, they can result in fines up to several thousand dollars each.

Criminal violations are usually assigned for repetitive actions or patterns such as knowingly hiring undocumented individuals. These types of violations can result in even heavier punitive fines but may also come with a partial or full loss of workforce or loss of a business license.

It is important to note that intentional or not, any of the above situations could possibly result in civil or criminal consequences, which is why the added protection of enlisting the help of digital I-9 software is often utilized.

Regardless of the additional resources a company utilizes, it is crucial for employers to implement proper Form I-9 protocol and ensure that management is properly trained to execute the process from start to finish. Many employers find digital I-9 software to be instrumental in assisting management with I-9 instructions for employers.

 

When it comes to I-9 instructions for employers, the most important steps to take include reading and understanding the form, utilizing available resources such as digital I-9 software, and being proactive in achieving a compliant status.

Can DACA recipients become citizens?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has taken center stage at the United States Capitol in recent years as lawmakers and Americans struggle to define the program’s parameters and constitutionality. Through it all, one of the most frequently asked questions by Americans and immigrants alike continues to be, “Can DACA recipients become citizens?”

Currently, the DACA program does not provide a simple, direct path to citizenship in the United States, but that could change in the near future depending on movement in the legislative and judicial branches of government.

 

The DACA Program

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was established in 2012. The program is thought to have been created with a primary goal of shielding individuals entering the United States as children from deportation. The program also dictated that those who received DACA status could then seek to renew their status every two years.

In 2017, the DACA program was challenged as being unconstitutional, which eventually resulted in the mandate that no new DACA applications be accepted until further notice. In other words, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is not accepting DACA applications from individuals who have never before received a DACA status. Despite halting the acceptance of new applications, those individuals who already have DACA status may still be allowed to apply for renewal.

Currently, the DACA program and its parameters are under review by the United States Supreme Court.  A final ruling from the court is expected sometime in 2020 and could further modify the above guidelines.

 

What DACA Status Means For Recipients

It is estimated that to date, DACA status has been issued to more than 750,000 individuals. These individuals, often labeled to as Dreamers, are thought to be primarily in their twenties and thirties and fairly diverse in their origins.

Those individuals who already have obtained DACA status are generally allowed to remain in the United States. In addition, some DACA recipients may also:

  • Be eligible to acquire work permits
  • Obtain employer provided health insurance
  • Receive education funding
  • Have access to state-subsidized healthcare

 

Can DACA recipients become citizens?

As of January 2020, the DACA program does not provide an open path to United States citizenship.  However, the House of Representatives passed a bill titled H.R.6 – American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 in June of the same year which could potentially change that. The bill is on the Senate Legislative Calendar awaiting review.

If passed into law, this bill could provide DACA recipients with a step toward permanent resident status.  Courtesy of the bill, a pathway to citizenship could be established through avenues such as military service or green cards. The bill also proposes the following:

  • The cancellation of removal proceedings against some aliens entering the United States as minors and with potential permanent residence status for ten years if certain qualifications are met
  • Streamlined procedures leading to permanent residence for DACA recipients that are approved for renewal
  • Removal of a conditional permanent resident status if certain requirements are met
  • Cancellation of removal proceedings for individuals qualifying for temporary protected status or deferred enforced departure status on certain dates
  • A Department of Homeland Security established grant program for nonprofits assisting individuals with certain immigration-related issues

 

While the constitutionality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program may still be in question until an official ruling from the United States Supreme Court is handed down, for now there are no new applications for DACA status being accepted and there remains no direct pathway to citizenship, even for those who have already received DACA status.