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The art of filling out the I-9 form

The art of filling out a Form I-9 both completely and correctly has long been an area of non-compliance for employers throughout the United States. The fear of potential I-9 Audits and associated fines from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has led employers to evaluate their own practices to ensure that they are up-to-date.

Recently, Colleen Richards, of EctoHR, Inc., participated in a webinar presented by the USCIS to get informed on the most current practices for filling out and maintaining I-9’s, and is happy with what she learned! Gone are the old rules of no abbreviations! The fear of minor mistakes seems to be a thing of the past.

Below is a brief list of guidelines to help with your current I-9 practices:

1. Abbreviations are acceptable.
a. Examples include: DHS, SSA, DMV, Dept. of State, DL

2. Receipts of documentation that has been lost, stolen, or damaged are acceptable for up to 90 days (this does NOT include receipts for documentation that has expired). After 90 days, the employee must have shown the new documentation to the employer.

3. Photocopying documents:
a. If you choose to photocopy documents used for I-9 verification, you must do so for all employees.

b. Though it is not required, it is highly suggested that the photocopies of these documents be kept with the I-9.
i. Should you receive notice of inspection, you will need that information.

c. For those enrolled in E-Verify, photocopies must be made.

4. Do NOT back date any information.

a. If you find you’re missing an I-9, fill out a new one and attach a memo to explain what happened.

b. Consistent practices lead to good I-9 audits.

5. I-9 Forms have to be available within 3 days of an audit request.

6. Retention:

a. 3 years after date of hire; OR

b. 1 year after date of termination – whichever is later

EctoHR recommends completing internal I-9 audits on a regular basis to ensure your company is in compliance. While the process can be somewhat tedious and time consuming, it achieves two key results – keep your company from receiving fines and penalties in the future.

If you find yourself questioning whether or not your I-9’s are in compliance, EctoHR would be happy to help with an I-9 Audit. Please contact Colleen Richards at colleen@ or (810) 534-0170 with any questions or I-9 Audit requests.

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