By: Andrea R. Jacobs, Esq.
An I-9 form is a USCIS form which verifies employment eligibility in the US. On the first day of employment for any employee, the employer must provide an I-9 form to the new hire. The employee section of the form must be signed and filled in that day. The documentation to prove that the employee is eligible to work in the US must be provided to the employer for review and verification within 3 business days. Seems simple, right? Well, it should be, but this is not always the case especially as a result of remote workforces during the pandemic.
If an employer hired new employees to work remotely during the course of the past year and a half, there has been some leeway granted in the verification process. However, this may soon end and employers may be subject to some hefty fines if they have not kept their I-9 files up to date. Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, there were over $14 million in I-9 audit fines. Enrolling in E-Verify, the government run eligibility program, is not enough to prove that your I-9 files are filled in and documented properly.
The best way to avoid the fines levied in an I-9 audit is to audit your files on a regular basis. This would depend on how many employees a company employs. A small company may only need to audit their files every few years while a huge company with thousands of employees may decide that they want to review their files annually. Having an immigration attorney assist with the auditing process is a great way to make sure that you are handling the documentation properly. At Brodzki Jacobs, our immigration team has over 30 years experience and would be happy to assist in this area.