Should employers opt for an electronic Form I-9?

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Form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verification, is a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services form. Mandated by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, it is used to verify the identity and legal authorization to work of all paid employees in the United States. All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States.

Electronic systems rid employers of unwieldy paper I-9 forms that can be difficult to manage and internally audit, that contain illegible handwriting, and that aren’t environmentally friendly. An electronic I9 has been said to

  • Ensure consistency in completing forms
  • Reduce processing errors
  • Provide reminders and alerts for re-verification
  • Enable easier system controlled audits

When compared to managing paper I-9s an electronic system can boast of a number of advantages such as a system can have embedded 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 ecologically friendly, the ability to manage even a huge number of Form I-9 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.
  • EMPTrust provides automated I-9 solution to help you manage your I-9 forms. Our Form I-9 Services will enable you to fill, manage and store Form I-9s with ease.
    Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only. Any issues regarding compliance and obligations under United States or International laws or regulations should be addressed through your legal department or outside counsel.
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