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The Importance of I-9 Compliance

February 23 2017

By Debbie Ames

The Form I-9, required by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has been known to be a source of employer compliance headaches. The Form I-9, used to verify the identity and eligibility for employment of employees, is a vital document to ensuring employers are compliant with rules and regulations set forth by the USCIS.

New Form I-9 for 2017

On November 22, 2016, the USCIS published a new Form I-9 that replaced the old from as of January 22, 2017.  All employers must utilize the new Form I-9 to verify the identity of all employees and failing to submit and/or fill out the form properly could result in significant fines ranging from $216 to $2,156 per form.

Businesses will need to secure the new Form I-9 in order to stay compliant under the rules and guidelines. The new rule announced by the Department of Justice in June 2016, specifically noted that the fines for I-9 violations have almost doubled in size.

Form I-9 Changes and Revisions

Some of the significant changes include:

  • The new form requires that all translators and preparers who assist new hires with the Form I-9 complete and sign a certification.
  • If an a preparer or translator is not used, the employee needs to affirmatively check a box indicating that he or she did not use a preparer or translator.
  • Immigrants who are authorized to work in the U.S. are no longer obligated to list both their foreign passport number and Form I-94 number. The new version of the Form I-9 requires aliens working within the U.S. to provide one of several numbers.
  • Users must enter N/A in any fields that they previously would have left blank. For example, if there is nothing to enter in the fields asking for a middle initial, or apartment number or Social Security number, those fields can no longer be left blank.
  • The new Form I-9 digital version also includes a variety of assistance options to employers to ensure they are completing the form properly.

How to Avoid Errors with the New Form I-9 Compliance Requirements

It is important that business owners avoid errors when hiring new employees. By ensuring the current laws and regulations are followed, the significant costs of failure to comply can be avoided by the employer.

Some of the more common errors made by employers when filing the Form I-9 include:

  • Late Submission:Employees are required to complete, sign, and date Section 1 of the Form I-9 no later than their first day of work. Employees cannot be asked to complete the form before they have accepted a position. Employers are required to complete Section 2 within three business days after the new hire begins work.
  • Too Much Documentation:Diligence is necessary to stay compliant; however requesting anything other than the required forms to verify legal eligibility to work within the U.S. is illegal.
  • Receiving Copies or Scans: Accepting a scan or photocopy of the Form I-9 is not compliant. Original documents are the only acceptable form to ensure compliance. The form must be reviewed in person by a qualified associate such as an HR representative or hiring manager.
  • Other common errors include incomplete forms, form corrections, using the wrong form (i.e. Spanish version which can only be utilized in Puerto Rico) and receiving incorrect documentation.

Adhering to the laws and regulations instilled by the USCIS can be challenging at times. However, reviewing the completion process with an HR professional will help ensure you are compliant in 2017 and avoid the potential of high fines.

The professionals at Goldin, Peiser & Peiser work with and advise clients in numerous industries. Contact us today to learn how our experienced professionals can help!

Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.

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