Who Is Eligible To Work In The U.S.

It is estimated that in recent years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) worksite investigations have nearly quadrupled. With statistics like these, employers must be more committed than ever to ensuring employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S.

This responsibility can be overwhelming for employers; however, the federally mandated use of a Form I-9 sets forth specific guidelines to help employers determine an employee’s eligibility and keep the company compliant in the process.

Employers who have a clear understanding of what the Form I-9 is and how it works are taking critical first steps in keeping the company compliant with federal law. These actions combined with additional resources such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Handbook for Employers M-274 and digital I-9 software, should streamline the Form I-9 process and make keeping a compliant status more attainable.

 

The Form I-9 And Individuals Eligible to Work in the U.S.

Since the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was passed, it has been the law for employers to complete a Form I-9 and collect the required documentation for each employee. The form is designed to establish an employee’s identity and eligibility to work in the U.S.

There are three main parts to a Form I-9:

  • Section 1: This beginning section requires an employee to enter personal information. This section must be completed in its entirety by the employee’s first day of employment.  Employers must review this section for accuracy and ensure there are no incomplete fields, blank fields, or missing signatures.
  • Section 2: The second section must be completed within three days of the employee’s starting day. The employee is required to submit Form I-9 approved documents to the employer. The employer is then responsible for reviewing the documents with good faith to determine the document’s authenticity.
  • Section 3: The last section of the Form I-9 is primarily completed by employers in the case of a change in an employee’s status such as a legal name change, an expired work authorization, or a rehire within three years of the date listed on the original form.

By completing these sections of the Form I-9, following the directions to a tee, and ensuring all deadlines are met, employers can have more confidence that an employee is eligible to work in the U.S.

 

Paperwork Required for Eligibility

Section 2 of the Form I-9 requires an employee to submit approved documents to the employer to help establish identity. Approved documents are categorized into one of three designations: List A, List B, or List C.   All employees are required to submit at least one of these approved documents, and some employees may be required to submit two, based on which list the documents come from.

  • In general, List A documents help prove an individual’s identity and eligibility to work in the U.S. Some example documents that may be approved from List A can include a United States Passport, Foreign Passport, Resident Card, or Employment Authorization Document Card. Some of these documents will only be valid if specific guidelines are met, such as a proper signature or notation.
  • List B documents primarily help establish an individual’s identity. If an employee submits a document from List B, a document from List C is also commonly required. Examples of List B documents may include a U.S. driver’s license, voter registration card, military card, military dependent card, or official medical record for a minor. Some of these documents must meet certain requirements to be considered valid.
  • List C documents are usually submitted with List B documents. Examples of List C documents can include a U.S. social security card, certification of birth abroad, U.S. birth certificate, or citizen ID card. Many of these documents must be unrestricted, bear an official seal, or be issued by the U.S. Department of State to be valid.

By an employee submitting the proper Form I-9 approved documentation, employers are more easily able to determine if that employee is eligible to work in the U.S.

 

3 Ways Digital I-9 Software Can Help with Determining if an Employee is Eligible to Work in the U.S.

Properly filling out a Form I-9 and verifying the authenticity of approved identification documents can be time consuming and tedious. To help streamline the Form I-9 process and make it more user friendly, employers are increasingly turning to digital I-9 software. While enlisting the help of programs like these offers a number of key benefits, here are the top four ways digital I-9 software can help determine if an employee is eligible to work in the U.S.

  1. Advance Preparation. This type of software typically offers a printable checklist for employees to review in advance. This helps employees understand exactly what type of information will be required of them to complete the Form I-9. Employers also have access to a checklist to stay on top of the process from start to finish.
  2. On-Boarding Assistance. Digital I-9 software assists employers in terms of guidelines and deadlines associated with the three sections of the form. This may include time-sensitive deadline reminders and potential error alerts such as incomplete or blank fields and missing signatures.
  3. Tracking and management of I-9 forms and supporting documents.
  4. E-Verify Interface. The most advanced software packages will interface with E-Verify to give employers an extra resource in verifying an individual’s eligibility for employment in the U.S. The software’s interface should also auto-populate the E-Verify system to help minimize errors.

 

The Form I-9 was created to help employers determine if an employee is eligible to work in the U.S.  However, by using digital I-9 software to navigate the Form I-9, employers should be able to breathe a little easier with an added measure of peace of mind.

Receiving a No Match Letter from the SSA

Employers have been receiving no-match letters from the Social Security Administration for decades, but in recent years the nation’s focus on immigration issues has led to a climate of uncertainty when it comes to what those letters mean for I-9 compliance. By understanding how to do due diligence concerning these letters and properly utilize digital I-9 software, employers can breathe a sigh of relief and may have more confidence in compliance throughout the process.

 

What Getting a No-Match Letter from the SSA Could Mean

The first step in understanding no-match letters from the Social Security Administration is considering the possible causes. A no-match letter is generally sent when there is a name and social security number mismatch.

While it may be instinct for an employer to be alarmed, it is important to do a little more digging first as a no-match letter does not necessarily mean an employee is not authorized for employment. Some of the most common reasons for a no-match letter to be sent from the Social Security Administration can include:

  • Typographical errors
  • Incomplete employer records
  • An unreported name change
  • Identity theft

Despite the number of often simple errors that can cause a no-match letter to be sent, it can open up an employer to I-9 compliance issues. For example, in the event of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audit or raid, the organization can request a record of no-match letters the employer has received.

No-match letters from the Social Security Administration cannot always be avoided, however, it is how an employer responds to that letter can potentially impact a company’s compliance status.

 

What Not to Do When an Employer Gets a No-Match Letter

Receiving the no-match letter is typically not as life altering as how an employer responds to the letter, therefore it is crucial to start with what not to do.

Two common scenarios that employers should avoid at all costs can include:

  1. Starting over with the Form I-9 process. This is not a good idea and can cause a company a whole host of new problems in an ICE audit or raid.
  2. Reacting swiftly to a no-match letter without researching first. Because no-match letters can sometimes be triggered by simple errors, it is imperative that employers not immediately dismiss an employee solely because of the letter. Doing so could result in the employer being sued for discrimination.

Once employers understand how not to handle the receipt of a no-match letter, the focus must shift to what employers should do.

 

What to Do When an Employer Gets a No-Match Letter

Whatever steps are taken in response to the receipt of a no-match letter can definitively impact a company’s compliance status. For that reason, there are a few important considerations to review before proceeding.

  • Go online to the Social Security Administration’s business services system and register in an effort to resolve the mismatch. The employer’s goal should be to rectify the situation within sixty days. This step is vital to prove that after receiving a no-match letter the employer acted in good faith. This action is generally looked favorably upon in the event of an ICE audit or raid.
  • Compare the listed social security number with employment records to look for possible typographical errors.
  • If employment records match the information the employer submitted, let the employee in question know about the snag. Ask the employee to double check the social security card for any inaccuracies between it and employer records.
  • If the employee’s social security card matches employer records, it may be prudent to ask the employee to work directly with the Social Security Administration to resolve the issue.
  • An employee with new documents should submit them directly to the Social Security Administration. In addition, the employer should also submit those document corrections to the organization.
  • In the case that an employee is not able to provide a valid social security number, it is critical for the employer to document all efforts made to resolve the situation to prove they acted in good faith. This last step could make all the difference when it comes to an ICE audit.

 

How Digital I-9 Software Can Help

Employers that choose to enlist the help of digital I-9 software may find the no-match letter procedure easier to navigate with the help of digitized documents. The software is designed to be user friendly and minimize common Form I-9 errors that can affect compliance.

The program can detect incomplete or blank fields and missing signatures, all of which can create headaches for employers if they are not caught before submitting the form.

In addition, a reputable digital I-9 software should interface with the federal E-Verify program. This valuable connection may help speed up the process of finding social security number issues since it utilizes records from the Social Security Administration to confirm an employee’s identity.

 

No-match letters from the Social Security Administration are not something for an employer to fret over, but how the employer chooses to respond to the letter is critical.

How To Conduct A Self Audit To Ensure I-9 Compliance

As the stakes for a business to be compliant with federal law grows, so does the demand for learning how to conduct a self-audit to ensure I-9 compliance. Employers are increasingly understanding the importance of this practice to reduce the number of potential violations before an official audit is in process. If done properly, a self-audit can provide employers with more confidence and peace of mind in achieving and maintaining a compliant status.

 

8 Steps to Conduct a Self-Audit to Ensure I-9 Compliance

With the incidence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) worksite investigations estimated to have quadrupled in recent years, it is perhaps more crucial than ever for companies to become proactive when it comes to preparing for a potential audit. Eight main steps for how to conduct a self-audit to ensure I-9 compliance is as up to date as possible include:

  1. Gather I-9 forms on file
  2. Ensure every current employee has a Form I-9 on file
  3. Obtain forms for current employees that are missing a Form I-9
  4. Verify proper retention of I-9 forms for terminated employees
  5. Perform an audit for every Form I-9 on file
  6. Identify and correct Form I-9 errors
  7. Document all actions taken during a self-audit
  8. Keep new hires on track from day one

 

Gather I-9 Forms on File

Since the passing of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, federal law has mandated that employers have employees complete a Form I-9, which was created to ensure that employees are eligible to work in the United States.

During a self-audit, an employer will need to gather each Form I-9 on file. This may include hard copies and digital copies, possibly from multiple locations if the employer has more than one office. The digitization of the form that takes place when a company utilizes digital I-9 software can greatly simplify this task.

 

Ensure Every Current Employee Has a Form I-9 on File

Not having a Form I-9 on file for a current employee can be considered a compliance violation and is often one of the first red flags that can be raised during an official audit. For this reason, once all I-9 forms have been gathered, it is crucial to reconcile that every current employee has a Form I-9 on file.

 

Obtain Forms for Current Employees That Are Missing a Form I-9

If during the self-audit it is discovered that there are one or more current employees hired on or after November 6, 1986 that are missing a Form I-9 on file, it is imperative that those forms be filled out immediately.

In this particular situation, it is important to note that employers should:

  • Make the employee in question aware of the missing form immediately
  • Ask the employee to provide proper documentation as stated on the Form I-9 by a specific time and date
  • Have the employee fill out a Form I-9 after documentation is received
  • Attach a short explanation to the Form I-9 that explains the issue came up during a self-audit and was immediately rectified
  • Keep a detailed record of all of the above communication

 

Verify Proper Retention of I-9 Forms for Terminated Employees

The regulations set forth in the Form I-9 require that employers keep an employee’s form for three years after the employee’s date of hire or for one year after an employee’s termination. Employers should use whichever date is later.

A company that has not properly eliminated a Form I-9 for an employee may be in violation of compliance that could result in punitive measures.

 

Perform an Audit of Every Form I-9 on File

Particularly for employers with hundreds of employees, performing an audit of every Form I-9 on file can be a rather daunting process as each form typically requires a number of different checkpoints.

Some of the basic information employers may want to review on each Form I-9 can include:

  • There are no blank fields
  • Each field is filled out in its entirety
  • Required signatures are provided
  • Identification documents are properly categorized

Employers that use digital I-9 software can usually expect this process to be more streamlined thanks to the digitization of the forms, an error finding system that can identify blank fields and missing signatures, and timely action item reminders and alerts.

Errors that are found should be appropriately identified, corrected, and documented to show steps taken in good faith. If done correctly, this documentation may positively impact compliance during an official audit.

 

Document All Actions Taken During a Self-Audit

Any errors found during a self-audit should be well documented as such by the employer. The company should also thoroughly document the additional steps taken with each employee to rectify any missing forms or errors. In the case of an official external audit, this should provide auditors with a well-marked trail of steps the company took in good faith to be compliant with federal law.

 

Keep New Hires on Track From Day One

Although periodic self-audits can be a useful tool in avoiding compliance issues, an equally effective method is to keep new hires on track to properly complete a Form I-9 from day one. Employers that may find this to be a time management struggle can benefit from utilizing digital I-9 software.

This software typically provides employers with two printable checklists. The first checklist is to provide an employee with advance knowledge of the type of information the Form I-9 requires. The second checklist is to provide employers with a system to keep each step of the Form I-9 process on track in a timely manner.

 

When it comes to how to conduct a self-audit to ensure I-9 compliance, consider lightening your workload by enlisting the help of a digital I-9 software provider.

About E-Verify

Whether you are a small business owner or a Fortune 500 company, you have likely heard about E-Verify, a program that can help employers adhere to federal law by verifying that employees are eligible to work in the United States. This crucial responsibility which can affect a company’s ability to stay I-9 compliant has many turning to the web-based E-Verify program to assist in ensuring that a company’s workforce is effectively verified and authorized to begin work.

 

About E-Verify and How it Works

Federal law mandates that every new hire is required to complete a Form I-9. This form was created as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and is designed to help verify the identity and employment eligibility of an individual.

There are three main sections to the Form I-9:

  1. Section1: The first section of this form requires employees to complete the personal information requested on the Form I-9 by the first day of employment. Employers must then ensure the employee completed the first section properly.
  2. Section 2: The middle part of the Form I-9 focuses on review and verification. Employees are required to present identification documents as listed on the form to employers. Employers must then in good faith examine those documents for apparent authenticity. This section of the form must be completed within three business days of an employee’s first day at work.
  3. Section 3: The third section of the form deals primarily with reverification and rehires and should be handled by the employer in the event that an employee’s name changes, work authorization expires, or is rehired within three years of the date on the original form.

The information gathered in the Form I-9 is vital to the success of the E-Verify program. Since the program is web-based, it allows companies to complete E-Verify cases online. To begin, an employer should open up a new case in the E-Verify system and complete the case form no later than the third business day from an employee’s first day on the job by utilizing the information from the employee’s Form I-9.

Once the E-Verify case is completed, the E-Verify program compares the Form I-9 information with that kept on file by government agencies to confirm an employee’s employment eligibility. Some E-Verify case results that confirm an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States can be received by the employer in less than a minute. This type of verification and authorization can help relieve some of the authentication pressure from employers and protect against identity and document fraud.

The Form I-9 and E-Verify information exchange process can be easily facilitated for employers utilizing digital I-9 software. In most cases, the software will auto populate many of the E-Verify fields without requiring retyping, which can help minimize common human errors.

 

Do I have to use E-Verify?

While in some areas of the United States enrollment in E-Verify is voluntary, it may be a mandatory requirement for businesses located in other states. In general, there are three main reasons why companies could be required to enroll in the program:

  1. Being mandated to participate in E-Verify because of an official legal ruling
  2. Participating in federal contracts or subcontracts with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause present
  3. Operating in a state that requires its businesses to participate in E-Verify

Required or not, the E-Verify program is open to businesses located in all fifty of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. At the pace the country is in for 2019, employers will use E-Verify for an astounding 50 million employees.

 

How Digital I-9 Software Can Help With E-Verify

The two main components of verifying an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States is the Form I-9 and E-Verify. An employer that digitizes the Form I-9 and utilizes the E-Verify program could potentially have an advantage to staying compliant with federal law.

Ways Digital I-9 Software Can Help With The Form I-9 For E-Verify

  • Be a User Friendly Resource: The Form I-9 can be complex because of the amount of information it requires, multiple deadlines, and the handling of identification documents. Digital I-9 software should provide helpful prompts to walk employers and employees through every step of the process.
  • Facilitate The Process: Digital software should come with printable built-in checklists for employees and employers. Checklists of information that will be required for the Form I-9 can be presented to employees well in advance to effectively streamline the process. Employers can use a checklist to stay on task when it comes to Form I-9 responsibilities and deadlines.
  • Minimize Error: This software is designed to alert users to common human errors such as blank or incomplete fields and missing signatures. These errors, if not caught, could lead to a company being found non-compliant with federal law in an official audit.

Ways Digital I-9 Software Can Help Specifically With E-Verify

  • Accuracy: With the help of digital I-9 software, the information typed into a Form I-9 should be complete and without the presence of common human error. This feature is key as the information in the digital form can be used to auto populate E-Verify program fields.
  • Save time: This simple transfer of information can help cut down on the time it would have taken to re-enter the information as well as minimize the chance for error.

 

By utilizing digital I-9 software in tandem with the E-Verify program, employers should feel confident in their efforts to be Form I-9 compliant and have more peace of mind about the confirmed eligibility of employees.