What Lookout Services I-9 Intelligence Software Offers vs. E-Verify

Since the passage of the Immigration and Reform Control Act of 1986, employers are required by law to verify the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. However, between the Form I-9 and the E-Verify program, both of which assist with employee verification, it can be confusing for employers to know the best approach for each.

Employees are required to fill out a Form I-9 for employers to verify employment eligibility. However, not all employers are required to use the E-Verify program, unless legally required to do so by special stipulations set forth by the federal government.

Increasingly, employers are turning to digital I-9 compliance software such as that offered by Lookout Services to help minimize errors and bridge the gap between these two compliance requirements. Less errors can leave less room for violations and serious consequences such as financial penalties.

Take a few minutes to review this chart to get a clearer picture of helpful features associated with the digital I-9 compliance software and E-Verify:

What Lookout Services Offers Vs. E-Verify

Feature

Purpose

Lookout Services I-9 Intelligence Software

E-Verify Feature

Integration with an Employer’s HRIS/Recruiting Systems

Data feeds from an employer’s HRIS or recruiting tool can be set up to help populate certain data details in the digital Form I-9, reducing errors, saving time and supporting the compliance monitoring practices of an organization.

X

Not applicable

Validation of input

Information required for the Form I-9 is often detail oriented and number heavy which can allow for multiple instances of human error. The I-9 intelligence features creates validation of input into the system, identifying mistakes before the information is submitted, which can also minimize penalties associated with submitting incomplete data.

X

Not applicable

Minimizing Data Entry

By using a digital Form I-9, the data input on the form will automatically populate relevant E-Verify fields which minimizes the amount of information an employer has to enter. This also typically lowers the opportunity for additional mistakes.

X

Not applicable

Avoid Duplicates

If a company has several human resources employees in charge of onboarding general employees, it is possible for more than one Form I-9 to accidentally be created for the same employee. A duplicate alert feature is designed to identify duplicate information before a form is submitted. Without this service to catch duplicate data, fraud issues and charges could be possible.

X

Not applicable

Auto notices & change history log for all Form I-9 Updates

A digital Form I-9 tool can identify expiring document end dates and send auto alerts before those problems become compliance issues. Additionally, a system will track and record actions required and the dates updates were completed while maintaining compliant I-9 forms.

X

Not applicable

Auto Notices & Tracking E-Verify Actions

Timely auto e-mail notices are distributed to employers about case processing errors and actions related to E-Verify submissions; allows employers to print Tentative Non-Confirmation Notices and perform photo match where required by E-Verify.

X

X

Secured Digital Storage

Digitally stored Form I-9s eliminate the need for voluminous secured storage space, and the time-consuming administrative burden of filing and retrieving these critical documents and their relevant attachments.

X

Not applicable

Printable Forms & Information

Especially during the instance of a mock or real audit, having immediate access to printable Form I-9 information (and any change history) is critical. Effective digital I-9 systems provide printable documents which are accessible at any time.

X

Not applicable

Multiple Location Accessibility

Unique access rights can be set up for companies with multiple locations to have access to all of their employment verification programs sites providing corporate level compliance management oversight and data security monitoring.

X

Not applicable

Peace of mind regarding employment verification

Unique access rights can be set up for companies with multiple locations to have access to all of their employment verification programs sites providing corporate level compliance management oversight and data security monitoring.

X

Not applicable

If you are an employer who would like more peace of mind and are interested in obtaining information on how our digital I-9 compliance software can help you with maintaining Form I-9 and E-Verify compliance, please reach out to Lookout Services today.

2021 E-Verify Requirements for Florida

E-Verify is becoming an increasingly valuable part of the hiring process in the U.S. but is not currently mandatory for everyone. However, thanks to a law passed in the state of Florida, public and private employers in that state must comply with applicable E-Verify requirements beginning January 1, 2021. It is important to note that the new 2021 E-Verify law for Florida does not replace the current Form I-9 process. If you are one of these businesses or one of their potential employees, read on about the 2021 E-Verify requirements for Florida because your livelihood could depend on it.

About E-Verify

While the Immigration Reform and Control Act that passed in 1986 does requires businesses to verify an individual’s identity and eligibility to be eligible to work via the Form I-9, the E-Verify program is not universally mandatory for all employers.

Those businesses required to utilize the program are usually asked to do so because they are:

  1. Mandated by an official legal ruling,
  2. Entering into federal contracts or subcontracts with a FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation) E-Verify clause,
  3. Operating in a state whose businesses must use E-Verify.

With the passage of the 2021 E-Verify law in Florida, public businesses in that state are now required to use E-Verify.

How E-Verify Works

By federal law, businesses hiring in the United States must complete the Form I-9 process in full. The document is designed to verify employee information and document authentication. The data collected in this form is then used to complete an E-Verify case.

The program is internet based and businesses must open and complete a new E-Verify case for an employee no later than the third business day after their first day at work. Once the case is completed by an employer, the program then compares that information with data already on file with government agencies.

Depending on the specific situation of the employee in question, E-Verify can typically provide verification results in just a few minutes.

2021 E-Verify Requirements for the State of Florida

The new 2021 E-Verify requirements for the state of Florida were passed in the summer of 2020 and went into effect on January 1, 2021. In order to better understand how the new law will affect businesses and individuals, it is important to breakdown a few differences between:

  • public employers
  • private employers

Public employers are generally defined as entities in either county, local, municipal, regional, or state governments or community colleges, public schools, or state universities who hire people to perform work for them for payment.

According to the new E-Verify law, public employers, contractors and subcontractors in the state of Florida are required to officially enroll in the E-Verify program and utilize it to confirm work eligibility status for all new employees.

Due to this specification, the relationship between public contractors and subcontractors becomes more complicated. Subcontractors have to provide contractors with an affidavit showing that they do not hire or work with unauthorized entities. There are some provisions for unknowingly engaging with a subcontractor in violation of this rule, but resolving the situation can still be difficult.

Private employers are generally defined as an entity or person who transacts business in Florida, has a license issued by a state agency, and employs persons to perform labor or services in Florida in exchange for either salary, wages, or other forms of remuneration. There is no minimum threshold that triggers a private employer’s obligation in Florida to comply with the E-Verify law. The Florida mandate clearly indicates that the first requirement of a private employer is to make an offer of employment to an applicant AND the applicant must accept the offer before the employer takes any action to verify the employee’s work authorization. Once these two criteria are met, a private employer in Florida may choose one of two approaches to verify the new hire’s identity and authorization to work:

  1. Utilize the Federal E-Verify program.
  2. Maintain a physical copy of an employee’s Form I-9 supporting identity and work authorization documents for a minimum of three years post the initial hire date.

One note of particular importance under this new law is that in most cases, Florida private employers are not required to verify work eligibility of a continuing employee hired before 2021.

What Could Happen If You Violate the New 2021 E-Verify Law for Florida

For both public and private companies who have done business in Florida for many years prior, this new law can bring sweeping change, and with it an overwhelming amount of work. While all the extra effort required may be tempting to ignore, it is illegal to do so.

Depending on the unique set of circumstances surrounding each violation, those who do not abide by the new Florida E-Verify law may face significant punitive consequences that could result in:

  • Licenses being withheld until an affidavit is provided,
  • Permanent revocation of licenses for a specific business location,
  • Complete revocation of licenses for a business to operate.

No business wants to find themselves without a license to operate when a little extra legwork to comply with the new Florida E-Verify law could have easily prevented it.

How To Simplify the E-Verify Process with Digital Form I-9 Compliance Software

One of the most overwhelming aspects of the Form I-9 and E-Verify process for employers is that it requires a great deal of information processing, which can lead to costly errors. However, employers may find that using digital I-9 compliance software can provide two key perks when it comes to also using E-Verify for employee work eligibility verification:

  1. Accuracy. Digital compliance software is designed to help employees and employers complete an I-9 form with minimal chances of human error. This is key as the information entered digitally into a Form I-9 is then used to auto-populate E-Verify program fields. The minimization of human error in one program leads to the same in E-Verify.
  2. Efficiency. To fill out a Form I-9 for an employee by hand and then manually enter information into an E-Verify case can be time consuming because it is twice the work, something many employers just don’t have time for. By using a digital Form I-9, it allows that information to be seamlessly transferred to E-Verify case fields without much extra effort. The software can save employers valuable time in the long run.

Any business in Florida should consider incorporating digital I-9 software that integrates with E-Verify into their hiring processes to ensure compliance and avoid common mistakes.

What Should Be Included In I-9 Software

Although companies have been performing employee eligibility verification since the passage of the Immigration and Reform Control Act of 1986, there is an increased urgency for businesses to be compliant and ready for an audit. In the last several years, there has been an uptick in the number of workplace audits and investigations regarding Form I-9 compliance. For this reason, employers are turning to digital I-9 software as a resource, but before partnering with a provider, companies need to be crystal clear on what should be included in I-9 software.

What is Digital I-9 Software?

Onboarding an employee is time intensive all on its own, especially for those businesses that have dozens of employees and/or multiple locations. For every employee that is hired, the law requires a Form I-9 be completed to verify their eligibility to work within the United States. Each form has three sections with individual instructions, guidelines, and deadlines.

Digital Form I-9 software can be helpful in streamlining this process by making it paperless and minimizing human error, which can sometimes cause compliance issues that come with heavy penalties.

What Features Should Be Included In Form I-9 Software?

Digital I-9 software is designed to be an efficient, user friendly, comprehensive product that helps employers navigate everything from the Form I-9 to the E-Verify program requirements. Some of the features clients should expect in a reputable I-9 software should include:

Minimization of Errors.

A Form I-9 with an incomplete field, empty field, or missing signature can all be red flags for compliance, but an intelligent I-9 software program with dynamic prompts should minimize the amount of these errors by providing instant alerts to employers prior to submitting a form.

Assistance Confirming Acceptable Documents.

USCIS defines a set outline of acceptable documents, and employees must provide an employer with both an approved identificationa and a work authorization document. Employers are required to collect and review these documents for authenticity to the best of their abilities and by specific guidelines set forth in the Form I-9. An intelligent I-9 software will help employers by providing samples of the listed acceptable document which they can compare to the documents provided by the employee.

Deadline Alerts and Audit Log.

A good I-9 software program will provide several options for employers to manage their compliance responsibilities including a management dashboard, e-mail alerts for impending deadlines where work authorization re-verification is required or other E-Verify compliance actions are required. On demand management reports for monitoring compliance are also key to any effective I-9 software. An audit trail, or otherwise called “change history” of all I-9 form changes should be available in the I-9 software for all forms that require updates during the required retention period of the employee’s form.

Integration.

Integration is key to efficiency, and the very best digital I-9 software will be integrated with E-Verify and will provide an option to be seamlessly integrated with an employer’s on-boarding and payroll systems, creating an exceptional user experience for both the employee and HR professionals involved in completing the Form I-9.

Document Retention and Accessibility.

Whether it is for a mock audit or the impromptu real thing, employers should have software that will grant them access to forms as needed. In addition, the software should assist an employer in managing the proper retention policies for all I-9 forms.

Security.

High performing security and privacy protocols must be put in to place to securely encrypt and store sensitive information.

Why Businesses Need Digital I-9 Software with E-Verify Integration

While it is not advisable, even employers who think they can adequately handle the above tasks for every new hire they have on their own will find the I-9 software to be particularly valuable when working with the federal E-Verify program.

A few features of digital I-9 software that can be advantageous when also working with E-Verify can be:

  • Single data entry. Reputable digital I-9 software should have the ability to auto populate E-Verify fields with the information from the Form I-9 which can help cut down on additional incidence of human error.
  • Duplication alerts. A software program can usually detect duplicate form entries before submitting through E-Verify, which notifies employers of potential social security fraud.
  • Save time. By using a reputable I-9 software that is integrated with E-Verify, the employer can seamlessly perform all required compliance actions involving the tentative non-confirmation notices to employees as an employee notice feature is built into the workflow of a digital I-9 software, avoiding time consuming manual steps and tracking.

If your company is already stretched to its limits in handling new hires or is interested in simply streamlining a sometimes-cumbersome process, consider digital I-9 software to add valuable peace of mind to the hiring process.

What Documents Are Required for Properly Filling out An I-9 Form?

Businesses nationwide are responsible for verifying each employees’ eligibility to work in the United States. While the concept is simple, the steps to being I9 compliant can be more complex. If a company hopes to be compliant with federal law, it is their duty to familiarize themselves with the Form I-9 procedure and the documents required for the I-9.

What is the Form I-9?

I9 ComplianceSince the passage of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, the law requires that employers and employees complete the Form I-9. This legal document of just one page consists of three main sections, each with its own deadlines.

Section 1:  Employees must fill out this section by the first day of employment. Employees must accurately and truthfully complete this section, or they can be charged with perjury. Employers should look over the final version of this section to make sure it is complete in its entirety without any blank fields or missing signatures.

Section 2:  This section of the Form I-9 requires that employees provide employers with one or more forms of identification to prove the employee’s eligibility to work in the United States of America. Once these forms of identification are supplied to the company, employers must verify the employee’s work eligibility by authenticating these same documents required for the I-9 within three days of an employee’s start date.

Section 3:  This last part of the form is generally completed by employers only if an employee’s work authorization expires, the employee has a legal name change, or if the employee is rehired within three years of the original date listed on the Form I-9.

When to Retain a Copy of I-9 Support Documents

It may seem like good sense to make and retain copies of important documents that the federal government requires a business to review, but when to retain a copy of I-9 related documents is a tricky question that can quickly send a business afoul of the law if the business isn’t paying close attention.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has more than quadrupled worksite enforcement investigations in the last year. With the increased enforcement efforts, this is a great time for U.S. businesses to reevaluate the company’s procedures to ensure that it remains in full I-9 compliance. Depending on how the business operates, keeping copies of I-9 supporting documentation may be the right answer – if it is done the right way.  Otherwise, optional document retention could create more problems than are solved.

ICE Raid in Mississippi

Consequences of Non-Compliance

If a company is found to be non-compliant for the Form I-9 process, consequences can vary. However, it is worth noting that violations are issued on each case of non-compliance that is found. If a business has multiple employees that are found to be non-compliant, the penalties can stack up quickly and produce devastating effects.

Criminal violations can be issued to companies with documented patterns of recruiting, hiring, or referring employees not eligible to work in the U.S.  Civil violations tend to deal with hiring or continuing to hire an unauthorized alien, committing document abuse or fraud, discrimination, and more offenses.

Depending on the number of violations and the penalties that they carry, consequences could result in heavy fines, a loss of workforce, or possibly even the loss of a business license. Each of these situations can negatively impact a company’s bottom line and overall morale.

Avoid Ice Raid Be I-9 Compliant
While many American businesses are being extra diligent in an effort to stay Form I-9 compliant, a recent ICE raid in Mississippi has many companies doubling down on those efforts with a renewed sense of urgency.

What Employers Need To Know About I-9 Audits & Work-Site Investigation

With a stronger push for immigration laws to be strictly enforced, American businesses are quickly learning the importance of being Form I-9 compliant. In the last few years, the nation has seen the number of government investigations into I-9 compliance almost quadruple. While a company may not be able to escape a government audit, it can be proactive in ensuring its I-9 compliancy.

The Form I-9 and the Importance of Compliance

The Form I-9 is a legal document that employers in the United States must have their employees complete to determine their eligibility to work in the country. The form is a one-page document that consists of three main sections:

  • Section 1: Employees are responsible for accurately completing this section of the Form I-9 by their first day of employment.
  • Section 2: Employers are responsible for collecting and authenticating required I-9 documents from employees to verify their eligibility for employment within three days of their start date.
  • Section 3: Employers will need to complete this section in the case that an employee’s work authorization expires, their name is legally changed, or they are rehired within three years of the date listed on the Form I-9.

In order for companies to be compliant, each employee’s Form I-9 must be completely filled out and accurate, the required identification documents be acceptable, and timelines and guidelines of all three sections must be observed. While it may sound like a fairly simple process, it can be quite complex and often requires the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Handbook for Employers M-274.  Many companies are also choosing to enlist the help of digital I-9 compliance software as an extra layer of protection and to help streamline the process.

For employers who have a large number of employees and in multiple locations, the process of becoming I-9 compliant becomes even more difficult. One of the primary issues is storage. All forms must be stored properly and be accessible to management and the government in the case of an audit.

While there are many reasons companies need to be I-9 compliant, the primary reason is because it is the law via the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. When a company is found not to be in compliance with Form I-9 protocol, it could be putting its entire operation at risk. It is not uncommon for companies to be issued civil or sometimes criminal penalties for these violations, all of which can result in hefty fines that can impact a company’s bottom line.

However, by understanding what it means to be I-9 compliant, why it is important, and what to expect if your company is audited by the government, you can ensure your company is adequately prepared.

What happens during an ICE worksite investigation or audit?

In the event of an ICE audit, a Notice of Inspection (NOI) is typically provided to an employer. Legally, the employer has three days to provide the agency with its I-9 forms and other forms of documentation such as a business’ Articles of Incorporation, licenses, list of current employees, and even a copy of the payroll.

After the proper forms and documentation have been presented to the government agency, the agency conducts an inspection of the I-9 forms. While it is possible for the agency to grant the company ten days to make appropriate corrections for technical or procedural violations, the company could still be fined for mistakes. These financial penalties can range from several hundred to more than a thousand dollars per violation.

Fines are commonly issued in the case of a criminal violation, which may include a company’s documented pattern of using fee-based recruiting, hiring, or referrals of employees unauthorized to work in the U.S. Unfortunately, punishment can extend beyond fines and may result in debarment by ICE, which can prevent the company from being considered for federal contracts and receiving certain government benefits.

Common Results of an I-9 Worksite Investigation

Once ICE has completed reviewing the I-9 forms and documents, it typically notifies the party that was audited in writing of the outcome. Here are several more common types of notifications and what they mean.

  • Notice of Inspection (NOI) Results: A result by this name generally comes in the form of a letter to the audited party to let the representatives know that the company was found to be compliant. This document can also be referred to as a compliance letter.
  • Notice of Discrepancies: This result lets an employer know that there was some difficulty determining an employee(s)’ work eligibility based on the paperwork submitted by the employer. The employer is then expected to share that notice with the employee so it can present additional documentation, if available, to establish eligibility to work.
  • Notice of Suspect Documents: An audit result by this name is a step down from the previous two results. This type of notification lets the audited party know that ICE has found an employee that is unauthorized to work, and that civil and criminal penalties could ensue. That said, ICE generally gives both the employee and employer a chance to present additional documentation that proves the employee’s eligibility to work if the audited party or employee deem the finding to be an error.
  • Warning Notice: This audit result can mean that some substantive verification violations were found, but may not warrant a fine due to the expectation of an employer’s future compliance.
  • Notice of Technical or Procedural Failures: This notification makes an employer aware of technical violations that were found. The employer then has ten business days to correct the forms with uncorrected technical and procedural failures being subject to fines.
  • Notice of Intent to Fine (NIF): This type of notification generally equals dollar signs. A notice of intent to fine can mean that an employer may be issued a fine due to violations related to substantive, uncorrected technical errors, knowingly hiring, and continuing employment of unauthorized workers.

How Digital I-9 Compliancy Software Can Help

Digital I-9 compliance software is quickly becoming the wave of the future. Companies are turning to this resource to help them stay I-9 compliant. In general, the software helps minimize human error and provides timely reminders for action items employers must complete to stay compliant.

Compliancy software provides employers and employees with a basic checklist of information needed to complete the Form I-9. This helps employees prepare ahead of time and gives employers a visual reminder of what is completed and what still needs attention.

One of the most user-friendly features of compliance software is the alerts. The program should catch blank or incomplete fields and missing signatures. Any of these things could cause a company to be found non-compliant, but the software program helps to find these inconsistencies and draw an employer’s attention to them before submitting the form. The program should also assist in tracking expired Form I-9 documents, so employers are able to work with the employee to attain updated documents before they become a compliancy issue.

Another benefit of implementing I-9 compliancy software is that it offers document archiving and centralized reporting. Less paper is required when forms and required documents are digitized, and it also helps the program track which forms need to be retained and which do not. Centralized reporting allows employers to provide requested I-9 information quickly and efficiently in the case of government audits. As an added bonus, centralized reporting can be utilized at any point by management, which can help them stay proactive about their company’s I-9 protocol.

With thorough understanding of the Form I-9, its guidelines and regulations, and possibly the assistance of digital I-9 compliancy software, employers can have more peace of mind about being proactive and keeping the company in good standing with the government.

Is E-Verify a Background Check?

Courtesy of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, businesses nationwide are required to both verify and authenticate their employees’ legal eligibility to work in America. The legally required document which helps verify an employee’s eligibility to work is the Form I-9. An often-required complement to the Form I-9 is the E-Verify system. While both components deal with the legality of work eligibility, neither the Form I-9 nor E-Verify constitutes a criminal background check.

The Form I-9 is a legal document provided by the government that must be completed by both employers and employees within the proper timelines stated on the form. The form gathers important personal information from the employee regarding work eligibility, requires employers to verify identification documents provided by the employee, and handles proper documentation for eligibility follow up and rehires. The Form I-9 cannot be utilized to perform a background check.

E-Verify is, in some cases, an optional add-on service that complements the Form I-9. The system allows enrolled employers to match employees’ Form I-9 information against records accessible by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. E-Verify is not to be used for a background check as it only verifies work eligibility and does not review a potential employee’s criminal history.

A company that requires its employees to have a legal work eligibility status and a background check should be Form I-9 compliant, consider utilizing E-Verify, and do a thorough background check or hire an employment screening service.

E-Verify Expansion in Iowa to Come?

Everyone is talking about immigration policy these days, but another debate is taking place among Iowa lawmakers considering mandating E-Verify for all businesses. While immigration law remains exclusively in the hands of Congress by virtue of the Constitution, a few avenues exist for states to contribute to the discussion in a roundabout way. Several states have weighed in by requiring some or all businesses to use the E-Verify system to validate the work eligibility of new employees. Iowa is the latest state to consider the measure.

Worksite Enforcement of I-9 Laws

With immigration continuing to be a focus in the U.S., worksite enforcement of I-9 laws is something business owners should pay attention to. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have ramped up scrutiny of Employment Eligibility Verification form (I-9) procedures, and the results have been eye-opening. In a single year, ICE has more than quadrupled the number of investigations: