We are pleased to feature a post from guest blogger Amanda Brock.  Amanda is a Henderson Franklin attorney and regular contributor to the Legal Scoop on Southwest Florida Real Estate, our real estate blog.  As many of you will remember from our seminar last month, in addition to her land use and environmental law practice, Amanda is assisting our clients with immigration-related matters.  Here, Amanda offers several great pointers for I-9 retention:

Who doesn’t love filling out mandatory forms from the federal government? In addition to being mandatory, the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms come with a host of regulations that can easily trip up even the most experienced HR professional. Adding insult to injury, if the government audits your I-9s, you generally have only 3 days to respond.

I recently heard a great presentation from Colorado attorney Jeff Joseph, who shared a few key pointers that may help your company retain the I-9s in the event of an audit:

*       Conduct an annual in-house inspection of I-9s for all employees (or ask outside counsel conduct mock audits);

*       Identify one person to be in charge of I-9s to streamline the process and retain documents (and train this person regularly on I-9 regulations);

*       Make sure all employees have an I-9 (every employee hired after 11/6/86 should have one, with limited exceptions);

*        Make sure you’re using the correct form – the current version is at www.uscis.gov;

*        Regularly check the Handbook for Employers Form M-274 issued by USCIS – it’s a great reference material and updated frequently;

*        Keep I-9s for the proper period and purge after the period passes – this includes current employees and may include prior employees – you must keep the I-9 for 3 years from the date of hire or 1 year from the date of termination, whichever is longer; and

*       File your I-9s in 3 separate folders:

o       Current Employees

o       Prior Employees (review regularly for any you can purge – holding on to them for too long can actually create a liability)

o       Follow-up (those that need re-verification – for example, an employee’s I-94 showed work authorization for only one year; you should calendar a reminder to review in one year to be sure they are still in compliance)

Following these tips will ensure a much easier experience if you are audited, and have the nice side effect of also streamlining your everyday operations. This is a win-win, and who doesn’t love a win-win?!

We are pleased to welcome Amanda into our extended employment law family, and happy to now offer these additional services to our clients.  If you have any immigration-related issues, Amanda can be reached at 239.344.1269 or at amanda.brock@henlaw.com.