St. Louis I-9 Attorney Jim Hacking Discusses Tricky I-9 Rules

An interesting article by Claudia Martorell on ILW.com points out that, as the business world continues to get smaller with growing technological connections, it is inevitable that companies sponsor foreign nationals for intermittent employment in the U.S. With these assignments becoming more and more common, it becomes harder for employers to keep track of individuals and their presence in the U.S. which puts them at risk of I-9 non-compliance.

Employers must comply with tricky I-9 rules

Visa assignments to individuals working for companies may come in regular intervals or more sporadically and may vary in duration from days, weeks or months. Intermittent employees can be assigned to work off-site and may be able to remain on a foreign payroll while working in the U.S. The Internal Revenue Code requires that American businesses be held liable for reporting all of their workers receiving a salary while employed in the U.S. even if they are also on a foreign payroll. Foreign nationals, as well as businesses, are advised to consult tax professionals because the implications could cause U.S. companies to go out of business. As part of the regulations, U.S. companies are required to keep an I-9 on file for all people working in the U.S. for the employer. This requirement applies to all workers regardless of the amount of time the worker spends in the U.S. or the type of job. Even if the employer doesn’t consider the individual a U.S. employee, if they are working in the U.S. with a work visa sponsored by the employer, then they count as a U.S. employee for I-9 purposes.

Issues with the I-9 procedure

The I-9 causes several problems for U.S. companies because of the intricate details needed in order not to have an infraction as well as the difficulty to keep track of every single employee. Many times, the employees spend a short time working in the U.S. or they enter with little notice so the company doesn’t have enough time to complete it or even run the file through an E-Verify system.

Another issue employers have when hiring intermittent foreign employees is the timeliness of reverifying their employment authorization which expires while they are out of the country. In these instances the employee’s I-9 form would say that they are absent from the country, but this is not always acknowledged. The company must continue to track the employee’s next trip into the U.S. so they can reverify the employment.

Moreover, companies tend to neglect the verificationprocess of employment eligibility. The challenge is that the employees are treated differently as foreign based employees so U.S. requirements are easily overlooked. The issue usually comes up when ICE is conducting an audit and finds something wrong with the company tax records. Companies are trying to develop better policies for Human Resources to run so that the number of I-9 and E-Verify violations are decreased.

If you have questions regarding the I-9 process in St. Louis, Missouri, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.