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Transitioning to the New Form I-9: the Perfect Time to Assess Your Compliance

April 2013

By: Ryan M. Helgeson, Esq.

On March 8, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a revised Form I-9. On May 7, 2013 use of the new Form I-9 will become mandatory. Employers who fail to comply will be subject to substantial monetary penalties. The new Form I-9 is available on the USCIS website at http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf.

Employers are required to complete the Form I-9 for all newly hired employees to verify their identity and authorization to work in the United States. (The new Form I-9 does not need to be completed for existing employees who already have a Form I-9 on file.) As your business transitions to the new Form I-9, you are presented with an excellent opportunity to assess your overall I-9 compliance. Schedule an I-9 compliance meeting/consultation ASAP. (See the end of this article for more information.)

Notable Revisions to Form I-9

The Form I-9 has been expanded from one to two pages. The employee completes Section 1 on the first page, while the employer completes Section 2 on the second page. Re-verification, if necessary, is also completed by the employer on the second page. Other notable changes include the following:

  • New data fields for an employee's foreign passport information, telephone number, and email address;
  • How and when employers need to reverify an employee's I-9 information;
  • Clarifying and expanding the form's instructions; and,
  • How and when employers should complete the form when a new hire presents a receipt for an acceptable document rather than the actual document.

The List of Acceptable Documents remains the same, as do all other relevant regulations covering completion of Form I-9. (Employers are reminded that they may not specify which documents the employee must present to establish their identity and work authorization.)

Voluntary I-9 Compliance Audits - They are Good for Business!

Violations of the federal regulations governing Form I-9 can be costly for your business. If employers fail to complete the Form I-9 for required employees or make errors when completing Form I-9, they face potential fines of up to $1100 per Form I-9! Regardless of the size of your business, these fines can add up to many thousands of dollars, and this does not include the time and hassle of defending an audit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Every employer should, therefore, conduct a voluntary I-9 Compliance Audit for the benefit of their business. The advantages of properly completing a voluntary I-9 Compliance Audit are numerous, including:

  • Substantially limiting potential liability;
  • Enhancing your business's control over its hiring process to avoid unlawful conduct;
  • Demonstrating a good-faith effort at compliance in the event of an audit;
  • Providing peace of mind, knowing that an expert has reviewed your company's I-9s;
  • Providing an understanding of the new Form I-9 and how the transition can be managed; and,
  • Establishing your business's preparedness in the event of an audit.

If your business is considering an I-9 Compliance Audit (and it should be, no matter how few or how many employees), consultation with an immigration attorney is strongly recommended to understand all of the details and requirements of the process. If you want set up an I-9 compliance meeting/consultation or review any other employment immigration question, please contact Attorney Ryan Helgeson at (630) 377-1554 or at ryhelgeson@wesselssherman.com. He will be glad to assist you in resolving your I-9 compliance issues, visa concerns, or any other business immigration matter.