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I-9 Errors Can Prove Costly

Filling out I-9 forms is a mandatory part of the hiring process, but failing to complete them properly can result in hefty fines. While the I-9 form does not require notarization, businesses have begun seeking Notaries to help complete them as third party agents because of their professionalism, experience in verifying identities, and their role as impartial, third party witnesses.

Since the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) passed in 1986, employers are required to fill out an I-9 form for every employee, regardless of nationality or immigration status.

In recent years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has significantly increased both the number of I-9 related audits and the resulting penalties for errors, making it crucial that people in charge of hiring learn how to properly fill out I-9 forms and avoid the most common — and costly — errors.

More than 2,200 I-9 audits were performed in 2010, up from 1,400 in 2009. According to agency reports, the ICE also levied a record-breaking 180 criminal charges against business owners, employers and managers/supervisors in 2010, a significant rise from the 114 charges issued in 2009.

The recent rise in audits and penalties are a part of the ICE’s continued efforts to crack down on illegal workers, but many companies can and have been hit with hefty fines for even minor errors committed on the forms of legal citizens.

There are a number of significant steps employers and Notaries acting as third party agents can take in order to protect themselves when completing I-9 forms.

  1. Be Timely: Proper ID and work authorization documents must be received by employee within three (3) days of his or her hire date. IDs must be current and not expired.
  2. Be Informed: Make sure you are familiar with the proper forms, and that all portions of the forms are correctly filled out. See the USCIS’s tips on Avoiding Common Errors.
  3. Be Secure: I-9 Forms should be kept separately from employee personnel forms. They should be kept safely on file throughout the worker’s employment, plus one additional year. ICE suggests keeping one binder for current employee forms, and one for past employees.
  4. Be Proactive: Review current I-9 forms periodically in order to identify any employees who need to update their eligibility status. Many organizations hire Notaries as outside consultants to review I-9 forms to ensure compliance.

1 Comment

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Sean M Henigan

14 Apr 2015

I've never been hired to complete an I-9 form. Is there a known and proven volume of such work for notaries to complete? I've called nearly every business within a 100 mile radius of me to let them know that I can help them with such documents. But, every single business said that they have employees trained to complete said documents. Apparently, this article's author and ICE agents are the only people who believe that it takes any special skills, training or knowledge to complete such documents. The minimal number of errors reported in this article is proof enough of that. More than likely, those errors were unintentional and probably due to some small oversight. It could happen to anyone. If those numbers were into the millions, I could see there being a need for notaries with specialized training and/or experience with such documents. But, a few thousand such errors hardly qualifies as opportunity for notaries to seek such work.

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