After over a year of editing, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services agency of the Department of Homeland Security has published a new Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9). The new form went into effect on March 8, 2013. Recognizing that employers may need a bit of time to transition use to the new form, the USCIS provided a sixty (60) day “safe harbor” for employers, and thus, gave employers until May 7, 2013 to start using the new Form I-9. Thus, now is the time your company should be taking steps to be in compliance by early May.
The new I-9 Form is now nine pages in total (seven pages of instructions/information, one page for the employee to complete, and one page for the employer to complete). Generally, the entire form is much easier to read than the old forms, and should help to reduce mistakes by the employee and employer. The seven pages of instructions are also more helpful and provide more clarity. In addition, the USCIS has updated the “Handbook for Employers, Guidance for Completing Form I-9″ (M-274).
Some General Reminders and Tips:
- Employers are required to complete the Form I-9 each time they hire a new employee (with some exceptions).
- A new employee should fill out the first page of the Form I-9 at the date of hire (which is no earlier than when the employee accepts the job offer), which should be no later than the first day the employee performs work.
- Then, the employer should review the employee’s information on the Form I-9, and complete the employer sections (page 2 of the form) no later than three (3) business days from the date of hire.
- The employer must physically examine the documents the employee presents for verification, and the person who examined the documents must be the person who signs the Form I-9.
- Most employers choose to photocopy the employee’s documents. If your company does so, then the company must be sure to follow this same practice for every employee.
- Employers must retain the completed Form I-9 and copies of documents for as long as the employee works for the employer, AND for a period after the employee separates from the company. These records can be retained in paper format, on microfilm, or electronically, but please review Part 3 of the Handbook for details.
- Employers could face stiff penalties:
- For failing to comply with Form I-9 requirements: not less than $110 and not more than $1,100 for each violation;
- For knowingly hiring (continuing to employ) unauthorized workers: not less than $375 and all the way up to $16,000 for each unauthorized worker;
- Potential civil lawsuits for discrimination and retaliation; and
- Additional penalties and even criminal charges for other violations.
- Train company representatives who will be processing Form I-9s for your company.
- Review/audit your Form I-9 procedures and files to determine how your company is doing and whether it is compliant.