We often get asked for guidance on I-9s which is the form used for verifying the identity and employment eligibility of new hires. All employers are required to verify and maintain an I-9 form for all employees, including U.S. citizens and non-citizens, hired after November 6, 1986, who will be working in the United States.
E-verify is an online system that allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of their employees. It doesn’t replace the I-9, as the information completed on the I-9 is asked for on the E-verify site. E-verify just allows confirmation of the employee’s employment eligibility, usually within a few seconds.
E-verify is required by some States. Currently, the States requiring private employers to use e-verify are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. If an employer has an employee in one of these States, they must use e-verify for all employees regardless of their State of employment, once they have an employee working in the State requiring e-verify.
I-9 audits can and do occur. A few important things to note about I-9s:
- The current I-9 form, found here: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/forms/i-9-paper-version.pdf is expired as of 10/31/2022. The current guidance is to continue to use the expired form.
- Employers must complete the I-9 form within 3 days of the new hire’s start date.
- It is important for employers to review the new hires completed information to ensure accuracy and completeness.
- It is important for the employer to complete the Employer section of the I-9s.
- Employers must not discriminate against employees based on their citizenship or national origin and must treat all employees equally when verifying their employment eligibility.
- It is important to be consistent in either collecting supporting I-9 documentation or not collecting it. Our preference is that employers collect the supporting documentation and store it with the I-9. Acceptable documents to establish citizenship can be found here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/form-i-9-acceptable-documents
- I-9s must be stored, electronically or in paper form, separately from an employee’s personnel file. We advise employers to use a separate I-9 file where they store all employee’s I-9. That separate file must be secured and have limited access by others in the organization.
- Employers must retain the employee’s I-9 for 3 years after the employee is hired, or 1 year after the employee terminates, whichever is later.
It’s a good practice to do an internal I-9 audit on an annual basis to ensure that every employee is accounted for, the forms are complete and accurate, and to separate out any I-9 forms for employees who have left the company. If doing an internal I-9 audit sounds like watching paint dry, give us a call, and we’ll take care of it for you! Milestones HR is an outsourced human resources partner for small and medium-sized professional service businesses throughout the tri-state area. Check out our website at www.milestoneshr.com or give us a call at 608-370-4642.
Written by: Angie Addison, SHRM-CP, PHR