With possible immigration reform and accompanying executive actions a hot topic in the United States, now may be a good time to consider (or reconsider) the need for an electronic I-9 solution.
Regardless of where the political debate leads, the reality is that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is likely to continue its intense focus on enforcing immigration laws.
In 2013, ICE managed a large-scale worksite enforcement effort that led to more than 3,100 employers audited, debarment of 277 businesses and individuals, and almost $16 million in employment-related fines.
This compares to a mere 250 audits in 2007! And there is little indication that this effort will subside anytime soon.
In addition, the Form I-9 itself can be a notoriously complex document to complete correctly.
Analysis indicates that there can be as many as 200 possible ways to introduce inadvertent errors on the document.
It is no wonder then that anecdotal evidence suggests as many as 60 to 80 percent of I-9 forms contain errors, each of which could potentially incur a fine.
Moreover, when ICE does execute an audit (an “administrative inspection” in ICE parlance), the employer receives a Notice of Inspection (NOI) with advance warning of as little as three business days to produce all relevant I-9 documentation.
Employers therefore must take great care in completing and maintaining auditable records.
An electronic I-9 solution can be a powerful tool to help automate many of processes associated with the completion of the Form I-9, speed the administrative process and facilitate compliance.
However, it can sometimes be difficult for HR managers to distinguish between the numerous electronic I-9 solutions on the market.
It is important to recognize that not all systems are equal. At HireRight, we believe that the capabilities of the vendor are as important as the electronic solution itself.
So what exactly should employers consider when evaluating their options?
Ideally, an electronic I-9 solution vendor should offer:
- An existing user base of clients. Organizations do not want to discover that they are the unwitting beta testers of a solution new to the market,
- Complete compliance audit trails. Since compliance is the central aspect of I-9, the vendor should be able to a demonstrate a history of supporting its client audits,
- Focus on partnerships with other HR technology companies. Companies stand to benefit from pre-existing integrations as these can reduce costs and administrative burdens,
- Knowledgeable individuals on its staff who can help provide education and best practice information regarding the electronic I-9 solution.
I-9 regulations are complex and fines are potentially steep. Consider implementing a proven electronic I-9 solution to help facilitate compliance and mitigate the impact and burden of an ICE audit.