As an HR professional, you’re likely already aware of the updated I-9 form made mandatory on January 22, 2017. It’s been a few months, however, so here’s a quick recap in case it’s slipped your mind:
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in November 2016, that an updated Employment Eligibility Verification form (aka the I-9 form) would become mandatory as of January 22, 2017.
The new form includes several small but important changes that were put into place to help streamline the filing process for businesses and, at the same time, maintain the national immigration law requirements:
- The “other names used” field in Section 1 has been relabeled to request only “other last names used.”
- The numbering of immigration status categories in Section 1 has been rearranged.
- Additional details regarding the preparer or translator have been added to the Translator Section, including the ability to select multiple preparers/translators.
- Section 2 now includes a designated area for additional information that used to require a margin note.
- The form is now equipped with additional prompts and electronic enhancements to facilitate electronic entry of required information.
The inclusion of “smart” features on the electronic version of the I-9 form should go a long way toward eliminating careless errors. However, it’s important to note that while you will be able to more easily complete the form on your computer, this is still a paper process for most employers. That means you will still need to print the completed form, obtain handwritten signatures, store the paperwork and monitor forms for re-verification as usual.
Fines for I-9 non-compliance are now higher
As of January 22, 2017, the fines for failing to comply fully with the rules surrounding the I-9 form have nearly doubled, so strict adherence to those rules is now even more important for all employers. At this point, the minimum penalty is $216 and the maximum penalty is $2156 per error.
Here is a quick rundown of the I-9 form rules, including some specific time frames and requirements that will have a bearing on who you choose to partner with for your background screening process:
- Employee Timing: The employee must fill out Section 1 after an offer of employment has been extended and accepted, but no later than the first day of employment.
- Employer Timing: The employer must complete Section 2 no later than the 4th day of employment.
- Original Documents: The employer must request and examine the original work authorization documents of the employee. (Not a photocopy or scanned copy, therefore not remotely via digital means.)
- Never Accept Expired Documents from New Hires: The only exception is a 90 day grace period for new hires that are U.S. Citizens or permanent residents that have already applied for a replacement document, such as a U.S. passport, driver’s license, etc.
- Reverification: Employers can not simply re-verify the I-9 of an existing employee who is a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident just because it has expired. However, foreign national workers have to be carefully tracked and re-verified prior to the expiration of their I-94 or work permit. (In certain instances, there is automatic continuing work authorization for those who have filed for an extension. It’s best to involve an attorney before terminating someone in this situation.)
- I-9 Errors: All employers should periodically audit their I-9s to make sure there is a fully accurate and complete form on file for every employee.
- Retention: I-9 records should be retained throughout employment and for 3 years after termination.
To best protect your organization with a thorough understanding of the rules and regulations governing the purpose and use of the I-9, go to: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central and solicit the expertise of your attorney.
If you’re going to maintain a streamlined hiring process while protecting your company from hefty non-compliance penalties surrounding the new I-9 form, it’s important to be able to rely on your employee background screening partnerto be knowledgeable, experienced, fast, but thorough. That way, you can be confident that every initial screening and re-verification will be completed in a timely manner without costly errors.
NationSearch is eager to assist you in navigating this process. Please contact us at 800-827-9550.