Help You Don’t Want From Your Electronic I-9 System

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 12:00pm
Theresa Nahajzer, GPHR

Electronic I-9 systems are becoming even more attractive to employers as they realize the additional compliance burdens imposed by more specific instructions, more pages to maintain and increasing pressure to adopt E-Verify, the online “companion” to the Form I-9. Electronic forms systems not only provide a potentially more reliable and legible manner in which to capture and maintain data, but they also allow for instant collaboration with information stored in other systems, reporting and analytics and can reduce human error with form completion tools such as validation, pre-populated fields based on information from other systems, drop down lists and other form tools. However, some electronic form tools that may be standardly used for other forms within an organization are not permissible with the Form I-9.
1) Pre-population of data in Section 1 (Employee Information): Your Electronic I-9 System may be linked with your applicant tracking or other HR system and therefore you might conclude that it would facilitate the process to pre-populate the data already collected in those systems into the Form I-9. ICE recently made clear that no one (or thing) other than the employee (or their translator) may complete Section 1 of the Form I-9.
2) Data Validation in Section 2 based upon information provided in Section I: Your Electronic I-9 System may not prompt the Employer representative to enter specific documentation based on the status indicated by the employee in Section 1 or data in other systems that may be linked to the Form.
3) Drop Down Lists or automatic population of Issuing Authority based upon Document Title in Section 2: Your electronic I-9 system may not populate the issuing authority in any way based on the document title entered. (For example if you enter “Social Security Card” – the system cannot populate with “Social Security Administration”. There are other entities that could have been the issuing authority of the card and the Employer representative must indicate which one specifically.
Employers may not necessarily apply the same logic and standards for the Form I-9 that they would for other organizational forms that are completed electronically and some providers of electronic I-9 systems, have proven to be greater experts in system design than I-9 compliance. Therefore, employers should not rely solely on their system provider to ensure they are compliant with I-9 rules. Storage, retrieval, process and functionality must be reviewed and chosen carefully to ensure that efficient business operations are supported as well as compliance. For many employers, the benefits of storing and tracking I-9s online, being able to create reports and analysis and to automatically link to E-Verify to create cases, well outweighs any potential risks. Those risks can be avoided with careful collaboration with I-9 compliance experts, such as your Maggio + Kattar attorney.