Completing Form I-9 is complicated as it is, but hiring remote workers presents employers with additional compliance issues. Due to technological advances and the nature of some businesses, workers may be located in another state or across the country from their employers. However, as with all new employees, completing Form I-9 to ensure new hires are authorized to work in the U.S. is an essential step in maintaining workforce compliance.
Between 60 to 80 percent of Form I-9s are found to contain errors that can result in a monetary penalty between $224 and $2,236 per violation. Therefore, as companies continue to expand their remote employee hiring, it is crucial that compliant I-9 verification for remote workers remains their top priority.
Remote Form I-9 Completion
Form I-9 is designed to confirm that new hires are authorized to work in the U.S. by ensuring they have the necessary documentation. Despite a 70-page manual on how to complete the form properly, mistakes continue to occur, whether employers commit document abuse, use an outdated version of the form, or fail to comply with Form I-9 employment verification requirements.
Form I-9 has three sections that need to be filled out by employees and employers. Section 1 is filled out by an employee while Section 2 can only be filled out by employers or their authorized representative after they have reviewed acceptable documentation of an employee’s authorization to work in the U. S. Finally, Section 3 is also filled out by the employer for reverification purposes or to enter rehire information, if necessary.
Employers have three days to inspect and verify the authenticity of a new hire’s eligibility documents. According to USCIS guidelines, they can designate an authorized representative to complete Forms I-9 on behalf of a company, including personnel officers, agents, or a notary public. Authorized representatives do not need specific agreements or other documentation for the purposes of I-9 verification for remote workers and employers remain liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process.Find all necessary information about I-9 form and learn how to easily achieve compliance with employment eligibility requirements to maximize efficiency and minimize legal risk.
Remote Form I-9 Compliance Best Practices
Setting Standards for Authorized Representatives
Employers can technically choose any individual to serve as their authorized representative when it comes to I-9 verification for remote workers. However, it is best to choose an individual who is already familiar with the Form I-9 process and has prior experience in reviewing the form and verification documents.
While notaries can be a suitable choice for I-9 completion, there are some important considerations to take into account. When a notary acts as an authorized representative for Section 2 of the Form I-9, they are not doing so in their official capacity, meaning they are not allowed to use their seal to notarize the document. Instead, they should fill out the form in the same way that an employer would do. Also, some states prohibit notaries from completing Form I-9. For example, under California law, the only individuals who can assist clients with I-9 verification for remote workers are licensed attorneys, individuals authorized under federal law to provide immigration services, and individuals qualified and bonded as immigration consultants under California law.
Providing Clear Instructions for Completing the Remote I-9 Forms
Employers need to provide a set of rules for both the new employee and the authorized representative who will be completing the form. The aim of this step is to explain the complete procedure, deliver clear guidelines and point out the importance of completing I-9 forms within the set time frame.
Regardless of who employers choose as their authorized representative, they are responsible for any mistakes or omissions. The representative’s failure to properly complete any required step in the process may subject employers to penalties, even if they identify and correct errors or omissions as soon as they receive the completed Form I-9. Even though many mistakes can be avoided by choosing the right representative and instructing them properly, employers are the ones who need to pay special attention to I-9 verification for remote workers to make sure they are flawless. Ultimately, addressing any existing I-9 issues on time can prevent potential ones in the future.
Managing the E-Verify Process
Employers participating in E-Verify have additional compliance concerns to deal with. Given the tight three-day deadline, employers need to make sure that every I-9 form is completed quickly so that there is enough time to review and submit the information to E-Verify before the deadline ends.
E-Verify employers also need to minimize the number of unnecessary Tentative Non-Confirmations (TNCs). An SSA or DHS Tentative Non-Confirmation appears when the information entered in E-Verify does not match SSA records or data available to DHS. TNCs frequently occur based on an incorrect or incomplete name that was recorded on the I-9 form or incorrect document or expiration date information. In the case of a TNC, employers need to notify the remote employee and provide them with the required documentation.Learn what steps to take in order to stay on top of the I-9 process, prevent TNCs and potential civil or criminal penalties.
Adopting the Right Technology
In light of the challenges posed by the remote I-9 forms, many employers are turning to electronic I-9 solutions to ensure a hassle-free process and reduction in processing time. Electronic solutions provide additional security and compliance while simplifying remote hiring. As a result, employers can focus their attention on other important compliance and business activities.
However, employers need to be careful when choosing the electronic I-9 system and to make sure that it meets the company’s needs and is compliant with DHS demands. Therefore, it has to include necessary requirements regarding I-9 verification for remote workers, such as a compliant electronic signature, robust audit trails, data verification algorithms, and integration with E-Verify.
Effects of a Growing Remote Workforce on I-9 Compliance
As the nature of the workforce continues to change, a growing number of individuals work remotely. This shift is a result of a number of factors, such as developments in technology, economic trends, and different needs of employees. Such a flexible work environment has many advantages but also creates a number of workforce management challenges, including those that relate to keeping their remote candidates and workforce compliant. Many of these potential issues and risks can be prevented by having Form I-9 completed accurately and efficiently to meet the strict requirements.
The challenges of remote I-9 compliance and the consequences for non-compliant organizations are numerous. An employee’s I-9 form has to be assessed by the person completing Section 2 of the form that can be an issue for companies hiring remote employees. However, the right electronic I-9 solution offers a comprehensive technology platform to streamline the entire process and ensure an efficient and compliant approach to onboarding remote employees.