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May 6, 2020

I-9 Requirements to Verify Identity Relaxed May 1, 2020

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The Coronavirus pandemic hit just about every facet of business hard, and the hiring process didn't escape. Regulations set beforehand are not realistic to enforce during the lock down and social distancing. A recent Data Facts blog post discussed DHS relaxing I-9 requirements due to COVID-19, allowing job candidates to complete I-9 forms remotely. Now the United States Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that, as of May 1, 2020, expired documents- such as drivers licenses or passports- may be used by new hires to verify their identity. This change is in response to the fact that many potential employees have been in lock down because of the pandemic and unable to renew their licenses or other forms of identity. 

The relaxed requirements are not a free-for-all and are only applicable in certain circumstances.  When using expired documents as a form of identity with new hires, employers are required to:

  • Only accept the expired document if it expired on or after March 1, 2020. (Some agencies are auto-extending the expiration dates.) 
  • Require a renewed document of other acceptable form of identification within 90 days after hiring the person. 

The expired identity document may also be used to create the E‑Verify case within the required 3 days after hire date.

Businesses should always diligently maintain I-9 documentation to avoid serious consequences. Failure to comply with I-9 requirements can result in civil penalties that can quickly accumulate and impose significant financial burdens on companies. However, the consequences of non-compliance don't stop there. In cases where businesses show a consistent pattern of I-9 violations, they may face not only civil penalties but also criminal penalties.

Criminal penalties for I-9 violations can have severe repercussions for businesses, including fines and even imprisonment for responsible individuals. These penalties are imposed when employers knowingly and willfully engage in fraudulent activities or intentionally hire unauthorized workers. It is crucial for businesses to understand the gravity of I-9 compliance and take proactive measures to ensure adherence to the regulations.

To mitigate the risks associated with I-9 violations, employers should consult with their attorneys to establish prudent best practices and guidelines for compliance. Implementing robust systems and procedures for I-9 verification, such as Data Facts' complete I-9 solution, can help businesses streamline the process while reducing the likelihood of errors or oversights.

Maintaining accurate and up-to-date I-9 documentation is not only a legal requirement but also serves as protection for businesses in the event of an audit or investigation. By diligently managing these records, employers can demonstrate their commitment to compliance and avoid the damaging consequences of non-compliance.

In conclusion, businesses must prioritize the careful maintenance of I-9 documentation to avoid the potentially devastating consequences of non-compliance. Civil penalties can quickly escalate and impose financial burdens, while a consistent pattern of violations can lead to criminal penalties. By consulting with legal professionals and implementing automated solutions, businesses can mitigate the risks and ensure adherence to I-9 regulations. Remember, proactive compliance is the key to protecting your business and maintaining a strong reputation in the face of increasing scrutiny.

Is your business still using paper I-9 forms? Get automated with Data Facts' complete I-9 solution.

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