March 30th, 2016 | Sterling

The Devil is in the Details: Taking Your I-9 Compliance Up a Notch

Has Your State Banned the Box?

The measures your organization takes to ensure Form I-9 compliance can make a big difference in establishing the work authorization of your employees, and in protecting your business from a negative audit experience, should ICE come knocking. The question to ask is: does your organization play by the rules, or are you just skating by?

Electronic I-9 solutions can simplify your hiring process and make I-9 compliance a snap, relying on built-in rules that enforce USCIS requirements – but with so many options, it is difficult to know which to choose.  Understanding the reasons behind the rules can empower your organization to select the I-9 solution that will serve you best. Which rules should you focus on?

Citizenship and Document Mismatch.

How should an electronic I-9 prevent this? Some products limit the document options in Section 2 based on the employee’s Section 1 attestation.  Imagine how this could go sideways: you are potentially unable to enter a valid document provided by the employee – do you state that you won’t accept it? Remember, as an employer, you may not tell your employees which documents to provide; the employee may choose any acceptable List A, B, or C document(s).

To avoid this, look for an I-9 solution that validates Section 2 documents against the citizenship in Section 1 – and provides clarifying prompts, with the option to either correct a mistaken attestation in Section 1, or identify the documents in Section 2 that would support the employee’s status.

Document Combinations. Speaking of documents, does your I-9 solution enforce either List A or List B and C documents? Why are they grouped this way, anyway? Remember: List A documents establish both identity and work authorization.  List B establishes identity, so it must be combined with List C, which establishes work authorization, to fully verify employment eligibility. Make sure any I-9 solution you consider prevents invalid combinations (like List A + List B) – and ensures that List B and List C documents are provided in tandem.

Further, does it handle combined List A documents, like a foreign passport with a Form I-94/I-94A? What about student visas – are you able to record Form I-20 or DS-2019 details? The additional List A fields are there for a reason – don’t neglect them! Bonus points go to the solution that automatically tracks temporary work authorization expiration, and reminds you to reverify your employee.

Receipts. Another tricky area is using receipts for documents that have been lost, stolen, or damaged. USCIS accepts receipts for the replacement of missing List A, B, or C documents; that is, the re-issue of previously issued identity and/or work authorization documents. However, receipts for an employee’s application for an initial or renewal employment authorization are not permitted. Why not? These receipts don’t establish that an employee is authorized – only that they have applied for work authorization – and are therefore not valid for Form I-9 purposes. A good I-9 solution will know the difference and help you avoid accepting improper receipts.

It’s great if an I-9 solution lets you enter receipt data just like any other document – but does it annotate it as a receipt on the form itself, and remind you to update your Form I-9 with the actual document, once available? Receipts are only valid for Form I-9 for 90 days from the date of hire – or the document expiration date – whichever comes first. Be sure to select a solution that manages receipt updates effectively and according to USCIS rules.

Using an electronic Form I-9 can significantly simplify your company’s hiring process – but if you are going to put your trust in an electronic solution, it’s important to be an informed consumer! When evaluating I-9 solutions, pay attention to compliance, not just ease. The ideal solution will both streamline and strengthen the integrity of your company’s I-9 process for new hires – so you can focus on building a great team!

SterlingBackcheck is not a law firm, and nothing contained in this publication should be construed as legal advice. We encourage you to consult with your attorney for a legal opinion specific to your needs.


This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.