Use of Electronic Form I-9 eliminates cumbersome paper I-9 forms that can be difficult to manage, store and internally audit. An electronic I-9 has been said to
- Ensure consistency in completing forms.
- Reduce processing errors.
- Provide reminders and alerts for re-verification.
- Set controls in place that don’t allow forms to be entered into the system with incomplete or wrong information.
- Enable easier system controlled audits.
- Automatic notification of expiring I-9 documents.
- Ensure user’s inability to enter incomplete forms in the system.
- Easier purging of documents following required retention periods.
When compared to managing paper I-9s an electronic system can boast of a number of advantages such as internal system controls to ensure no data is missing or incorrect while filling an I-9. Moreover an application can bring in alerts and reminders about impending document expiry and re-verification if any. Another feature an electronic I-9 boasts is the ease with which old and obsolete I-9s can be purged from the system.
Not only is it environmentally friendly, the ability to manage even a huge number of I-9 Forms from a single location is attracting many to an automated system. However, managers should choose their system with great care as cases in the past indicate that an electronic form I-9 is also not foolproof. A leading garment manufacturer using an I-9 application that was built in-house was found to have technical glitches that have landed them in millions of dollars worth of fine as it did not follow the ICE stipulated regulations.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) completed a new ruling regarding the electronic signing and storage of I-9 forms. The following can be said to be key points to be noted while adopting an automated I-9.
- Retrieval systems with indexing functions that permits searches consistent with ICE requirements for accessibility and storage.
- Clear audit trails that detail when I-9s are created, completed, updated, modified or corrected.
- Assurance that when electronic records are created, completed or updated, there is a secure and permanent record created that establishes the date of access, the identity of the individual who accessed electronic records and a history of the action taken.
- Proof that the system can easily produce I-9 paper copies, including batch and individual copies, as well as supporting documents.
Automated systems can make I-9 forms easier to store and inspect, bring consistency to the completion process, and reduce certain types of human error. But if compliance issues aren’t weighed as heavily as the benefits of workflow efficiency when choosing I-9 software, your organization could easily find itself on the wrong side of an ICE audit.