Could Your Employees’ I-9 Forms Pass an Audit?

Could Your Employees' I-9 Forms Pass an Audit?

I-9 forms are one of the most vital pieces of information you’ll collect on your employees. They prove employee eligibility to work in the United States and ensure your employees are able to work legally in your healthcare facility. That means that it’s critical to make sure your I-9 forms can pass an audit. Is your business prepared?

  1. The New “Smart” I-9 Form

In January of 2017, the newest form of the I-9 – the smart I-9 form –  became the legal standard for employers. This critical form, which will remain valid until September of 2019, contains a number of changes that employers must be aware of. If your practice isn’t up-to-date, you may face several severe penalties which have recently increased. The changes to the new I-9 include:

  • The inability to leave sections blank (n/a must be entered for information that is irrelevant to the applicant)
  • The ability for foreign workers to provide an alien registration number, Form I-94 admission number or foreign passport number in order to prove eligibility to work
  • Five spaces for translators or other individuals who have helped prepare the form to sign and date
  • An Additional Information box in section 2 of the form

What makes the I-9 form smart? In addition to being a printable form that can be filled out on paper, this form offers the ability to be filled out as a PDF. Once the form has been submitted and saved, it will be automatically checked for errors in order to ensure that everything has been filled out correctly. This makes it much easier for employers to be sure that they’re collecting the right information for all of their employees. Not only that, filling out the form digitally means that some of the information from section 1 of the form will auto-populate to section 2 which must be filled out by the employer.

  1. Top Tips to Complete, Retain and Reverify

This revised form has made it easier than ever for employers to complete the necessary information for their employees. These tips, however, will make it even easier for you.

  • Ensure that you’ve seen original copies of the documents that are necessary for employment verification and that you’re using the right documents.
  • Remember that you must complete the form within three days of the employee beginning work for pay.
  • If you are completing the paper version of the form, use black or blue ink – not pencil – and ensure that you use the same color of ink throughout each section of the form.
  • Complete the I-9 fully and completely, but consider keeping copies of documents used in the process if necessary.
  1. How Do You Fix Mistakes on an I-9 Form?

Mistakes made on a paper copy of the I-9 form should be fixed by starting the form completion process over from scratch. No correction fluid should be used, nor should you scratch out information. Instead, get a new form and start over. If you’re using the digital version of the form, you can use the Start Over option to input different information on the form.

  1. Interactions Between the Smart I-9 and E-Verify

E-verify is a government system that compares the information provided on the I-9 to employment records in order to confirm that an employee is eligible to work in the United States. This system is voluntary for most employers, but it is the best way to ensure that an employee is eligible to work legally in the US. E-verify uses information from the I-9 and some additional information about the employee in order to determine this eligibility. By working with a system that integrates E-verify and the smart I-9, you can enter the information only once, rather than having to enter it a second time into the E-verify system.

  1. How to Use the New I-9 Handbook

There’s a good reason the I-9 form is known as one of the most complicated one-page forms in America. It comes with a complex handbook that answers many of the common questions associated with filling out this complex form. This handbook provides guidance for employers struggling with everything from how to retain the documents to discrimination in the workplace. By becoming familiar with this handbook, you can make filling out these forms easier on both you and your employees.

  1. E-Verify: Current and Future Compliance

The federal government currently offers voluntary enrollment in the E-verify program for employers to verify employment eligibility. Some states, however, already require some industries to enroll in E-verify. It’s critical, therefore, that you know your state’s requirements and can determine how to remain in compliance for the medical profession.

As immigration rules tighten, odds are E-verify will become mandatory for most professions – and medical practices will head the list. By becoming familiar with E-verify now, even if your state isn’t impacted by the rules, you’ll provide a more secure system for your practice and ensure that you are entirely compliant.

  1. Best Practices for USCIS and ICE Compliance

With hefty fees for being noncompliant with USCIS and ICE regulations as related to I-9 forms, it’s critical that your organization take the steps necessary to remain compliant. These best practices will make it easier for your practice.

  • Keep I-9 forms separate from employment records. Make sure that they are held in a secure location that is not readily accessible by employees who don’t need to reference them in the course of their job responsibilities.
  • Designate a particular individual in the practice to be responsible for I-9 forms and compliance. Ensure that they receive annual training.
  • Pay attention to the timeline: employees have to complete I-9 forms on their first day of employment. Employers must complete their section of the form by the third day.
  • Check critical dates on the forms and make sure that every box on the form has been filled in correctly.
  • Pay attention to your employee’s status: some employees’ employment verification will expire which means that you’ll need to re-verify their employment status in order to allow them to continue working for you. Consider installing an automated program that will track this information for you and let you know when it’s time to re-verify.
  • Make sure employees have a choice of which documents they give you in order to verify employment.

Maintaining I-9 compliance can be challenging and time-consuming. If your practice needs help with these or other vital forms, contact Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration. We are a healthcare Management Services Organization (MSO) that gives our members access to discounted rates on all types of services and products to successfully run their business – including I-9 compliance. Practices of all sizes can benefit from our group pricing discounts. Best of all, we have already identified the best providers for these services so you don’t have to. Contact us today to learn how we can help.