The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

4 Tips for Successfully Completing the Form I-9 and E-Verify Process

Form I-9Higher ed HR professionals are challenged with completing the I-9 and E-Verify process for all institutional employees, from faculty to staff and everyone in between. Although the process seems routine, simple errors can lead to government fines of up to $1,100 per employee.

At the CUPA-HR Annual Conference and Expo 2015, presenters Dan Schropp, director of university payroll operations for the University of Iowa; Helga Yunker, office manager of HR and payroll for George Mason University; Amy Peck, shareholder for Jackson Lewis, P.C.; and Chad Whittenberg, senior director of product management for Equifax Workforce Solutions shared some tips for successfully (and compliantly!) completing the Form I-9 and E-Verify process.

Put in Place Internal Controls. If there’s no system in place for storing and purging, the likelihood of losing important documentation is much higher. Developing a streamlined process and compliance plan can reduce an institution’s number of violations. In some cases, this process may include employee training or an audit checklist.

Properly Train I-9 Processors. Those processing Form I-9 and/or E-Verify cannot request specific documents or ask an employee to bring two forms of identification. The correct method is to request the employee to bring proof of employment eligibility from List A, B or C as indicated in the Form I-9 instructions.

Be Prepared in Case of an Audit. According to the 2014 Office of Inspector General Report, the Department of Homeland Security performed more than 9,100 administrative inspections from 2009-12. With increasing worksite investigations, being prepared for an audit is necessary. CUPA-HR member institutions can learn more about I-9 challenges and audit preparation with the new CUPA-HR Essentials e-learning video, Form I-9 Challenges in Higher Ed.

Ensure the Accuracy of Electronic Storage. Employers who store Forms I-9 electronically must have controls in place to ensure the accuracy of the storage system. This includes having the ability to prevent unauthorized access to prevent additions, deletions or changes.

Although more than 80 common errors can be made on the form itself, institutions can at least hit the ground running by keeping these tips in mind.

If you or anyone on your staff needs a refresher in I-9 or E-Verify, check out these resources from CUPA-HR:
I-9/E-Verify Toolkit in CUPA-HR’s Knowledge Center
4 Essential I-9 Resources for Higher Ed
Form I-9 Requirements: Why Compliance Matters
CUPA-HR Essentials: Form 1-9 Basics