On January 31, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released its 14th version of the Form I-9: the main document used by employers to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. All U.S. employers must properly complete Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States, including citizens and noncitizens. Both employees and employers (or authorized representatives of the employer) must complete the form.
According to USCIS guidelines, employers may use the prior version (07/17/17 N) until April 30, 2020. Beginning May 1, 2020 employers must use the revised 10/21/19 version.
For the most part, the revised Form I-9 is similar to its predecessor. It features a few clarifications and changes to help employers work through the complexities of using the document as it is intended. However, even seasoned employers and HR professionals may be surprised at the level of detail needed for processing the form accurately. Key items applicable to most employers include the following:
Failure to use the new form may add unnecessary risk and result in fines to your organization. In addition to using the correct form version, it’s important that you implement and maintain proper procedures for completing the Form I-9. Monetary penalties for knowingly hiring and continuing to employ unauthorized workers can range from $573 to $20,130 per violation, with repeat offenders receiving penalties at the higher end. Penalties for substantive violations, which include failing to produce a Form I-9, range from $230 to $2,292 per violation.
Employers should use the new I-9 form for new hires effective May 1, 2020 to avoid penalties. Information relating to recent changes, the new form version, and instructions for completing the form can be accessed at https://www.uscis.gov/i-9. Be sure that the appropriate staff within your organization reads and understands the instructions. HR best practices suggest you conduct an internal audit of I-9 form compliance at least annually to understand where risk may be lying in wait. Corrections are possible and may reduce fines and penalties if implemented timely. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
If you have any questions regarding the new changes or need help conducting an internal audit of your I-9s, please contact us.