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By: Kelly Eisenlohr-Moul
Over the past two years, many of our clients have felt the effects of a federal enforcement shift: increased form I-9 and E-Verify audits, Office of Special Counsel complaints, and civil lawsuits focused on the alleged suppression of wages caused by the hiring of unauthorized workers.
The root cause of all these actions is the Form I-9. Mistakes or errors in completing an I-9 can result in administrative, civil and/or criminal penalties from various federal agencies. Even worse, an audit from one agency can result in a “referral” to another agency for additional penalties.
Filling out an I-9 is confusing. Until the federal government does a better job of drafting the Form I-9, however, training all employees who will have input into the I-9 process offers the following benefits:
• Reduces the likelihood of ignorant mistakes;
• Educates employees involved in the Form I-9 process about what the federal government is looking for;
• Increases awareness of red flag issues and online resources to address them;
• Places the employer in a more favorable light if an audit occurs.
There is no downside to training, and US Customs & Immigration Enforcement offers free, hour-long webinars on both Form I-9 completion and E-Verify use.
USCIS also offers a resource entitled I-9 Central, which addresses Frequently Asked Questions and provides examples of documents which prove identity and/or work authorization.