It is essential for companies to focus on compliance. When it comes to the I-9 form, most companies concentrate on making sure they are not hiring undocumented workers, which is great, but penalties do not stop there. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) penalties for improper and untimely completion of the Form I-9 are substantial. Penalties can range from $100 – $16,000 depending on the violations and how many times the violation has occurred.
What companies may consider a small error is usually the most common and can end up costing the company significant fines. These include:
- Incorrect format of the date;
- Using the incorrect version of the I-9 form;
- Failure to complete all sections of the I-9;
- Failure to complete the form according to proper deadlines;
- Failure to collect all appropriate documentation or collecting too many documents; and
- Not ensuring all appropriate sections of the form are signed.
As these penalties are per error and not per form, they can add up quickly. The truth is even the most seasoned employer representative can make a mistake on the I-9 form. Unfortunately, accidental oversight does not make up for lack of accountability. If ICE was to audit your company, would you be 100% confident that you have completed form I-9 correctly without error and that you would undoubtedly not have to face such penalties?
If not, here are tips to consider when dealing with form I-9 to avoid common mistakes and dreadful fines.
- Conduct I-9 Self Audits or third party audits
- Train your employer representative responsible for I-9 completion on what to look for and how to fix it;
- Make sure your I-9’s are completed according to the required deadlines;
- Do not request specific documentation as proof of identity or work authorization; or collect too many documents;
- Make sure the employee and the employer representative have signed and dated the form in the correct spaces; and
- If you make and keep copies of identity and employment authorization documents (if that is your practice) do so consistently.