U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on March 8, 2013 published a new Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The form is available for immediate use by employers.
Employers may continue to use other previously accepted revisions (Rev.02/02/09) and (Rev. 08/07/09) until May 7, 2013.
After May 7, 2013, all employers must use the revised Form I-9 for each new employee hired in the United States. To avoid discrimination claims, do not complete the new Form I-9 for an individual if you already have a properly completed Form I-9 on file for that employee.
The revised Form I-9, which is two pages, has several new features. Employers are encouraged to print the form front-to-back to ensure the second page is not lost. Also, in section one fields are added to list the employee’s email address and telephone number, but are optional.
Failure of an employer to ensure proper completion and retention of Forms I-9 may subject an employer to civil monetary penalties of up to $1,100 per I-9, and, possibly criminal penalties.
Updated March 11, 2013
Form I-9 Basics
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is taking a more aggressive stance to ensure compliance with Form I-9 procedures by issuing a record number of civil and criminal penalties against employers.
As an employer you are required to complete a Form I-9 for every employee that you hire – the form is used to verify the employee’s identity and that the employee is eligible to work in the United States. The Form I-9 must be kept by the employer either for three years after the date of hire or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later. To obtain the latest Form I-9 go to Form I-9.
To assist employers with Form I-9 questions, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency within DHS, released an updated Form I-9 manual on January 5, 2011. The manual provides:
- The instructions for completing and storing Form I-9s
- Information for businesses interested in participating in E-Verify
- Re-verification procedures
The Form I-9 manual can be found here.
E-Verify is a free Internet-based system run by DHS that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify supplements, but does not replace, the Form I-9. Currently federal contractors must use the E-Verify to confirm employees’ work eligibility.
More information about E-Verify can be found at E-Verify.
Aggressive Fines for Noncompliance
Businesses that violate the law – beware. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has started to aggressively fine companies for paperwork violations related to incomplete Form I-9s. Even in cases where a company has no unauthorized workers, ICE has levied fines. For example, in September 2010, Abercrombie and Fitch was fined $1 million because it’s digital I-9 software had a glitch, which meant some fields on the Form I-9 were left blank. ICE still fined the company even though all Abercrombie and Fitch employees were authorized to work in the United States and had filled out an I-9.
For additional information on Form I-9 compliance, contact the NFIB Small Business Legal Center at (800) 552-6342.
This NFIB alert does not constitute legal advice, and you should consider consulting an attorney about any laws and regulations that are applicable in your state, locality or particular type of business.