As a Chambersburg-area business owner, you know the importance of compliance with your company’s private policies and impeccable record retention. What’s even more important is compliance with federal documentation requirements for your employees’ identity and authorization to work in the United States. Since the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, federal law requires employers to have completed physical or electronic I-9 forms for all employees, and to retain these forms on location for either three years after hire, or one year after termination.
The guidelines for Form I-9 procedures are very specific, and with due reason. If all sections of the most recently revised Form I-9 are not filled out completely and correctly, dated accurately, updated with changes and corrections, reverified when necessary, and retained according to federal guidelines, your business is at high risk of fines and criminal penalties. Even without knowingly hiring someone ineligible for employment in the U.S. (a violation which can cost you up to $16,000 per form), you could still be fined anywhere from $110-$1,100 for each form that does not meet Form I-9 requirements.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security, employees of the OSC in the Department of Justice, and Department of Labor employees are all permitted to conduct audits of your Form I-9 records by giving three days written notice, or none, if they possess a subpoena or warrant. Needless to say, this type of federal involvement would not improve your company’s reputation, and could negatively effect your profits and future existence.
As you conduct routine internal audits of your Form I-9 records to ensure compliance, you may find errors such as missing signatures or dates. Do not, under any circumstances, backdate forms. This could be interpreted as document fraud and cost you anywhere from $375 to $6,500 per violation. Mistakes happen, and the government knows that. Any changes of incorrect or missing information must be initialed, dated, and provide attached explanation of the changes. If your Form I-9s are electronic, ensure changes are visible in your audit trail.
Considering the importance of Form I-9 compliance, many employers choose to enroll in E-verify (http://www.uscis.gov/e-verify), a free, Internet-based program provided by the federal government to confirm employment eligibility. In addition to our payroll services, BCM Payroll Services provides a free version of the most current Form I-9 form for your convenience: https://bcmpayroll.com/bcmold/forms/.