Form I-9 for Businesses

Form I-9 for Businesses

Using E-Verify in conjunction with the Form I-9

By Robert C. Daniel, MBA, SPHR, AWMA

Employers know that verifying the ability of an employee to work in the United States requires collecting personal information for the Form I-9. Keeping this information both confidential and up to date is a serious responsibility for the company, because this information must be available for inspection quickly.

Since 2008, certain federal contractors have been required to use E-Verify, an Internet-based program, to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. Now all employers may use E-Verify, which is fast, free and easy to use.

But using E-Verify does not do away with paperwork. Employees and employers must still fill out the Form I-9, employers must retain the forms, and make them available when requested by authorities. E-Verify is simply a way to confirm the identity and employment eligibility of workers and uses the information gathered on the I-9.

There are some differences in the process of verification, too. The E-Verify system cross checks the information on the Form I-9 with the Social Security Administration’s database. Thus, E-Verify requires a Social Security number. The Form I-9 does not require a Social Security number. Another difference is that E-Verify requires a photo on
certain identification documents, whereas the Form I-9 does not. Finally, the E-Verify process may not be used to re-verify expired employment authorizations, while the Form I-9 can.

So why should an employer consider using the E-Verify process for some of its employees? The first benefit is a practical one. The system stores the Form I-9 information electronically. Should a company be audited, the archived files are available almost immediately. Second, by using this government system, a company has
demonstrated good faith in complying with the law.

We recommend that our clients who keep hard copies of I-9 forms do so in a file separate from other employee personnel information. This allows for quick access during audits or when requested by government agents, and ensures the privacy of other personnel file items.

Companies have the option of storing completed I-9 forms electronically in a secure system other than E-Verify. Of course, these systems should be routinely backed up, with the backups kept in an off-site location with adequate security.

Is your company in compliance with Form I-9 requirements? Pulakos CPAs can help you determine the best ways to verify and store sensitive information about your employees.