As an employer, you probably don’t need us to tell you that keeping up with I-9 compliance can be a tricky process. That’s why at FordMurray, we utilize our years of experience to help clients avoid any I-9 compliance issues and provide our clients with internal audit strategies.
After publishing our new guide to planning for an I-9 compliance audit, we wanted to take the time to answer some of your questions and concerns surrounding the process.
Question: Can we maintain our I-9 records within the individual’s personnel file?
Simple answer: You should never maintain the I-9 with the individual’s personnel file. It just makes life a whole lot simpler and easier to keep them separate.
Now for the longer answer.
Truthfully, the I-9 records should be maintained entirely on their own and separate from any other files.
Why, you may ask? If the government audits or inspects your I-9 records, any documents and/or files maintained with those I-9 records become “part of the file” and are also available to the government for inspection. This means that the government will have access to more documents and information than you may want to provide — and more than they should actually be entitled to.
Beyond providing too much information, it’s just imperative to keep stellar I-9 records. Even simple mistakes can result in severe fines and penalties. Plus, a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Notice of Inspection (NOI) can come at any moment. Once you as the employer receive an NOI, it is expected that you will provide ICE with I-9 documentation within three business days.
Ask yourself this: If an ICE NOI shows up at your doorstep, can you get everything together in three business days?
Employers should retain I-9 forms and store them in a location where they are easily and readily accessible. That way, if a form needs to be pulled, you as the employer know exactly where to find it.
Remember: Organization is key when dealing with I-9 records. A clear and efficient record keeping system — one in which I-9 records are kept separate from the personnel file — will help you avoid mistakes and filing errors.
At FordMurray, our team of experts is ready and able to help prepare you and your business for an I-9 audit. Want to get started? Contact us today.