On April 3, 2009, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a reminder that a revised I-9 Form had been released for all U.S. companies. Employers can no longer use old versions of the I-9 form and can be held responsible for any penalties and non-compliance for not using the correct form and following requirements. It’s important to understand the I-9 Form changes, where to obtain more information and how to keep your company protected and compliant.
The History of I-9 Forms
The purpose of the I-9 form is to determine that a worker is eligible to be employed in the United States. Employees are required to present authorized and legal documents that establish their identity and authorization to work in the U.S within three days of starting work. And employers are required to be compliant with the Immigration Reform Compliance Act (IRCA).
In 1986, Congress passed the IRCA, which includes the following provisions and requirements:
An employer must not knowingly hire or employ any person not authorized to work, and must complete a Form I-9 on every new employee.
Penalties for I-9 compliance errors range from $110 to $1100 each.
Employers face fines and potential lawsuits for over-documentation, missing I-9 forms and/or discrimination from wrongful use of the I-9.
The I-9 form is required for any workers hired on or after Nov 6, 1986.
Employers must verify both identity and work authorization.
Employers are responsible for the completion of the I-9 form.
I-9 forms are not filed with the government but held by the employer, and must be maintained separately from personnel files.
Changes to the I-9 Form
The most notable changes to the new I-9 Form include the revised list of acceptable documents for employment verification, while prohibiting the use of expired documents. There are also changes to the amended employee’s attestation of status box and definition of non-citizen nationals. The revised list and changes were put in place to improve security and effectiveness of the I-9 form and process.
Documents removed from List A:
Documents added to List A:
U.S. Passport Card
Unexpired foreign passport with the temporary I-551 printed notation on an MRV (Machine Readable Visa)
Passport from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) or the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) with a valid I-94 or I-94A indicating nonimmigrant admission under the Compact of Free Association Between the United States and the FSM or RMI
When Do You Use the New Form?
The new form is required for all new employees and employees who need re-verification. If the employee’s work authorization document expires, the employer must re-verify the employee’s right to work prior to the expiration for the current work authorization document. Employers who do not use the new form may be subject to civil money penalties. The updated I-9 Form can be downloaded from the USCIS website.
Ways to Keep Your Company Protected and Compliant
Employers are required to keep a copy of the I-9 form on file for the duration the employee is employed with the company. The I-9 form may only be destroyed after the employee leaves the company and the federal document retention guidelines have been met, three years after the employee is hired or one year after the employment is terminated, whichever is later. Managing employment verification programs can be a challenge for employers.
Many companies’ employment verification procedures are manual and paper-based. It is difficult to create effective tracking, follow-up and reporting methodologies, as paper-based systems can be inefficient and can present both procedural and compliance challenges. The government developed E-Verify, an online national database, so employers could electronically verify employees’ right to work in the United States. However, a fully compliant I-9 management program incorporates much more than E-Verify. Using the E-Verify system correctly is a key part of a diligent employment eligibility program, but in itself is not enough.
By automating the I-9 program, companies can alleviate many of the challenges inherent in paper-based systems and ensure the program remains effective and compliant. An electronic process automates form completion to guide users to enter full and correct data in the proper fields and collect the appropriate documents, depending on the individual’s work status. This automation reduces errors that could be extremely costly and risk non-compliance. An electronic I-9 program should also include automated and instant E-Verify checks to simplify that process.
Some electronic systems are continuously updated as government regulations change at the federal, state and even local level, to guide users automatically through the proper procedure, ensuring constant compliance. Without continuously automated updates on changing regulatory requirements, it’s virtually impossible for companies to keep up with changes and to constantly update hiring procedures across the country to maintain compliance.
Other key benefits of managing the I-9 process electronically include ease of collection, storage, data access and auditing processes, as well as improved follow-up procedures on work authorization expirations since e-mail alerts can be set up as reminders for users.
Free White Paper: Effectively Managing I-9 Employment Eligibility in the Face of Changing Legislation
Discover the best practices of a compliant Form I-9 and E-Verify program by downloading:
Effectively Managing I-9 Employment Eligibility in the Face of Changing Legislation