Employers: Are You Using the Correct I-9 Form?

A new I-9 Form (the document used to verify worker identity and eligibility) has been issued by the Department of Homeland Security. You can obtain forms now and should have started using them by May 7, 2013.

To Obtain Forms

The revised forms are available in English and Spanish online at www.uscis.gov. For more information, call 888-464-4218. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. USCIS maintains a website, I-9 Central, to support Form I-9 users.

To order forms, call USCIS toll-free at 1-800-870-3676. For downloadable forms and information on USCIS programs, immigration laws, regulations, and procedures, please visit www.uscis.gov.

What are the Changes?

Previously the Form I-9 was one page. Now, it is two. In addition, certain data fields have been added to Section 1, including fields for the employee’s passport information, if a passport is presented.

Employees now have the option to provide their contact information (e-mail address and phone number), which could be used by the Department of Homeland Security if there is a mismatch of information between their records and the Social Security Administration’s records.

Section 2 looks different, but the information has not changed. It does contain points for employers to remember, such as those below.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

It’s extremely important that the information documented on the Form I-9 is accurate and complete. Mistakes or missing information, whether intentional or not, can lead to harsh penalties. Employers can be fined from $110 to $1,100 per violation for failing to comply with the form’s requirements, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Penalties for participating in document fraud or knowingly hiring an unauthorized worker range from $6,500 to $16,000 per violation.

Under the Obama administration, government audits of employee eligibility have become more aggressive. According to data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement cited by the Associated Press, government audits of employer I-9 forms rose from 250 in fiscal year 2007 to more than 3,000 last year.

A Few Reminders

The Department of Homeland Security wants employers to know they should not fill out new I-9 forms for current employees if there is already a properly completed form on file.

When you present a new hire with a Form I-9 (which includes a list of acceptable documents for proving employment eligibility) you may not request specific documents. The list is available so employees can select the documents they will present. However, do not accept expired documents or copies of originals. You are responsible to inspect all documents presented to determine if they appear genuine. An employee who states that an original document is unavailable because it has been lost, stolen, or damaged can present instead a receipt showing that he or she has applied for an original document. That employee then has 90 days to receive and present you with the original. In addition:

  •  You can download and print the new forms (see sidebar) and the six pages of instructions. It is important that you make the instructions available to employees. But also, review the instructions yourself.
  •  The I-9 Form itself is two pages. Employees must complete Section 1 no later than the first day of employment. As the employer, you must complete Section 2 no later than three business days from the employee’s first day of employment.
  •  As before, employers are required to maintain Forms I-9 for as long as the employee remains with the company and for the required retention period after employment terminates (three years from the date of hire or one year from the date employment ended, whichever is later). These forms must be made available for inspection upon request by appropriate federal authorities. Failure to properly maintain these forms could result in penalties.

HBE is here to help! Should you have any additional questions on the new Form I-9, please give our office a call at (402) 423-4343.

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