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7 Ways to Improve Your I-9 Process

Oct 10, 2023

An employer discusses his I-9 strategy

Your I-9 process is running smoothly, covering all compliance aspects, from document review and verification to storage and retention. Employees and talent leaders alike are satisfied with the process, making it a successful endeavor overall.

However, even with well-established processes, there’s always room for improvement. In the ever-evolving field of immigration, it’s crucial to adopt best practices for I-9 management, optimizing your strategy to take it to the next level.

In this article, we’ll explore seven key practices to elevate your I-9 processes from being predictable to highly efficient.

Best Practice #1: Not Just Policy Creation, But Effective Training

Talent leaders recognize that policies and procedures serve as a roadmap for their teams. While having a comprehensive written I-9 policy is essential for consistent management and compliance, it’s equally important to ensure that employees adhere to these policies.

As a leader, it’s imperative to provide training and enforce your policies to ensure that your team is aligned with your I-9 procedures. Given that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) imposes hefty fines for I-9 violations, it’s critical that your team fully understands and implements your I-9 policies.

Here are five ways to effectively train your team on your I-9 policies:

  1. Ensure easy accessibility to your policies, allowing employees to review them anytime, preferably in digital formats with appropriate security measures.
  2. Conduct ongoing training to keep your team updated on policy changes.
  3. Use quizzes and gamification to engage and assess employee knowledge.
  4. Lead by example, demonstrating that talent leaders also adhere to the policies.
  5. Explain the importance of policy compliance to your team.

Best Practice #2: Integrating E-Verify into Your I-9 Processes

E-Verify, administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is an Internet-based system that verifies employment eligibility by cross-referencing Form I-9 information with SSA or Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records. Depending on your organization’s location and type, E-Verify may not just be a best practice; it could be a legal requirement. Consult with your employment or immigration attorney to determine its applicability.

Best Practice #3: Implementing Task Reminder Systems

To avoid missing critical tasks and deadlines, consider implementing an automated task tracking system. This system can send reminders to your computer, smartphone, or tablet based on your preferences.

For example, you can receive reminders for visa renewals, which may require updates to Section 3 of an employee’s I-9 form. Additionally, automated reminders can help ensure that new employees complete their I-9 forms on their first day of work, as required by the “Thursday Rule” (the employer’s legal obligation to fill out Section 2 of the I-9 form within three days of the employee’s initial day of employment).

Adhering to these rules and timelines is essential for overall compliance.

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Best Practice #4: Proactive Self-Audits

Conducting self-audits can help you identify and rectify inconsistencies and errors in your I-9 processes. Given the complexity of I-9 regulations and the potential for errors, self-audits can save time and money by addressing issues proactively.

The frequency of self-audits should align with your company’s size and turnover rate. Larger organizations or those with high turnover may need more frequent self-audits to maintain compliance.

Best Practice #5: Harnessing Technology for Compliance Leverage

Technology solutions to ensure compliance with I-9 regulations. Digitizing your operations can reduce errors, streamline administrative tasks, and facilitate storage, tracking, and retention of documents.

Technology can also provide timely notifications for updates and document destruction, simplifying your workflow. Consistency in policy implementation is crucial, and technology helps create a legally defensible process, essential for audits and potential government inspections.

Best Practice #6: Establish a Compliance Monitoring Program

Employer filling out work visa paperwork

Creating a compliance monitoring program is essential to ensure ongoing adherence to I-9 regulations. This practice involves regularly reviewing and auditing your I-9 records and processes, even after initial onboarding. I-9 regulations can change, and employee records can become outdated. By regularly monitoring compliance, you can quickly identify any discrepancies, errors, or outdated information and take corrective actions promptly.

Proactive monitoring also allows you to catch potential issues before they escalate. It can help prevent costly fines and legal consequences resulting from non-compliance. This practice demonstrates your commitment to maintaining a compliant workforce.

Best Practice #7: Engage Legal Counsel or Compliance Experts

Engaging legal counsel or compliance experts specializing in immigration and employment laws can provide your organization with invaluable guidance and support for I-9 compliance. I-9 regulations can be intricate and subject to change. Legal counsel or experts stay updated with the latest legal developments, ensuring that your organization remains compliant with current laws and regulations.

In the event of a government audit or inspection, having legal counsel or experts on your side can be invaluable. They can guide your organization through the audit process, help address any issues, and ensure that your rights are protected.

Incorporating these best practices will help optimize your I-9 processes, ensuring greater efficiency and compliance in this vital aspect of talent management.