[Source: Bob Evnen, Woods & Aitken LLP, 2017 | Keywords: New Hires, Employee Eligibility]
As of January 22, 2017, all employers are required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to use the new Form I-9 with a revision date of “11/14/2016 N.” Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. Since 1986, all U.S. employers have been required to insure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States, including citizens and noncitizens. Both the employee and the authorized representative of the employer must complete the form. The new form is designed to be easier to use and to reduce common errors, and is easier to complete using a computer.
Online form available. Employers have the choice of using the online fillable Form I-9 or the paper I-9 Form. (Note: Employers who use the online fillable form must still print out the Form I-9 to sign and retain as required.) Employers may print out the Form I-9 and complete it manually if they choose. It’s no surprise that instructions for completing the form have increased from six pages to 15.
ìSmartî updates. The “Smart” updates to the online form are designed to make it easier to complete on a computer. These updates include drop down lists and calendars for filling in dates, on-screen instructions for each field, access to
full instructions and an option to clear the form and start over. When the completed form is printed, a quick response code is automatically generated which can be read by most QR readers and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement auditors.
In-person review requirement. The new Form I-9 still requires a representative of the employer to verify employment eligibility in the physical presence of the
individual being verified and also requires the employer’s representative to
review in person the documents being presented. The USCIS regulations
specifically state that using FaceTime or Skype for the new hire verification process is not permitted.
Not required for existing employees. Employers are not required to complete the new I-9 Form for existing employees unless reverification of employment is necessary as a result of the expiration of a worker’s employment authorization.
Fines. Errors on the Form I-9 can be expensive, including using an expired version of the form. For each Form I-9 paperwork violation the fine range has almost doubled (effective December 23, 2016), from $110-$1,100 before, to $216-$2,156 today.
Summary. The Trump administration has stated its intent to focus on immigration enforcement so it is imperative for INEDA members to review their employment verification procedures to confirm that they are clear, compliant and consistently followed. This includes using the new I-9 Form and regular self-audits of Form I-9 documents to identify and rectify non-compliant forms. Self-audits have become a required component of the program. In the event of a government inspection, expect the inspectors to ask about self-audit procedures.
For help with Form I-9 procedures or instructions on how to conduct a self-audit, contact your counsel or call the HR Helpline at 855.277.5575. Weíll be happy to provide you with assistance.