Employment Eligibility Verification
All U.S. employers, regardless of size or industry, are subject to the I-9 requirements for their US workforce It is a common misconception among employers that if no foreign national workers or undocumented individuals are employed, then there cannot be a violation and that the I-9 requirement may not even apply to them. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, many employer penalties are based solely on “paperwork violations” where there is no issue regarding an employee’s right to work.
The employment eligibility verification laws essentially impose a very strict set of requirements that all U.S. employers examine employment eligibility and identity documents provided by employees, regardless of nationality. The I-9 form is deceptively difficult. Due to constant changes in guidance and forms, this examination process is complicated for employers to administer without knowledgeable legal counsel. Not only does this document exchange between the employer and the employee have to occur within a limited amount of time measured from the date of hire, but implementing it incorrectly can also raise other significant legal issues such as record keeping violations and employment discrimination claims. In the event of an audit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of Justice Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) or other government agencies, these issues can amount to significant civil monetary penalties and sometimes even criminal sanctions against the employer.
Despite the associated risks, all too often employers attempt to establish an onboarding and employment verification system without legal counsel. In an era of heightened enforcement, this can be a risky practice. At TSM, we can develop customized compliance programs driven by the needs and resources available to your organization. We will work with you to develop processes, training materials and best practice recommendations based on your workforce, industry and other personalized factors. TSM can train your HR teams regarding the onboarding and I-9 process. We can also assist with establishing written I-9 policies that can be critical in the event of an audit. Additionally, we can conduct internal audits of your company’s processes, systems, and paperwork to proactively ensure your program’s overall compliance. In addition, TSM is available to advise on electronic I-9 and employee onboarding programs and to vet a specific program for compliance with the regulatory requirements. In the event your company has already been notified by ICE, USCIS (E-Verify) or IER that a government audit has commenced, TSM has the expertise to guide your organization through the daunting process of responding to the many phases of an audit. We will also work with you to correct errors, assist affected employees, and negotiate a reduction in the penalties imposed for any identified violations.
TSM can also answer questions and offer legal expertise in related worksite areas such as use of the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS), enrollment and use of the E-Verify program and IMAGE program, establishment of E-Verify best practices and how to handle Social Security mismatches that arise in a variety of contexts including ACA filings and benefits administration