On March 8, 2013, USCIS released a new Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. Employers should begin using the new Form I-9 with revision date 03/08/13 immediately for all new hires, as well as for reverifications or rehires. The revision date is on the lower left of the new form and looks like this: (Rev. 03/08/13)N. Employers may continue to use previously valid Forms I-9 (Rev. 08/07/09Y and 02/02/09N) until May 7, 2013. However, after this date, employers must only use the new Form I-9 (Rev. 03/08/13)N.
Here are some of the changes to the Form I-9:
- It is now two pages long.
- There are expanded instructions.
- There are new fields for e-mail address, phone number and foreign passport in Section 1.
Employers are required to complete a Form I-9 for all newly-hired employees to verify their identity and authorization to work in the United States. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the enforcer of compliance.
As Liz Hocker, vhr’s Managing Director, mentioned in a recent post, the number of I-9 audits multiplied over the past decade, rising from almost none—just three in 2004—to 500 in 2008 and 3,004 in 2012. As such, employers should pay close attention to the appropriate completion and accuracy of these forms, as the fines for substantive and procedural violations of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) can add up quickly.
For knowing violations, IRCA penalties range from:
- $375-$3,200 for each unauthorized employee for a first offense
- $3,200-$6,500 per unauthorized worker for a second offense
- $4,300-$16,000 per unauthorized worker for a third offense
The fines for paperwork violations range from $110 to $1,100 per violation.
When the government assesses penalties, the biggest factor it examines is the percentage of reviewed I-9 forms that have errors. If they discover more than 50% of paperwork violations, for example, the fines typically are $900 per I-9, which may be adjusted up or down.
One frequent error employers make is failing to have someone physically present on their behalf while the new employee holds the I-9 in his or her hands and the employer representative fills out Section 2. As telecommuting is often a factor, many employers have wondered how to address this issue. A notary public is one option, but, increasingly, notaries are hesitant to act in this capacity out of fear that they may be held liable if there are I-9 penalties later. In order to address this concern, some employers prepare memos to take to notaries noting that the employer would be on the hook, not the notary. A local law firm is another option. Or, an employer may send a new employee to a bank, which probably has a notary who could act on the employer’s behalf.
Section 2 of the form must be completed within three business days of the employee’s first workday.
I-9 audits used to be random, but now they are more often the result of disgruntled former employees complaining to ICE.
Avoid these charges by ensuring your company is in compliance. We conduct these company audits all the time, and can help your company, too. Contact vhr to get started.