After more than a decade since the immigration reform legislation mandating changes, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has finally issued its revised I-9 form. Employers are obligated to use the new form for any new hires after December 26, 2007. Failure to use the new form will subject employers to penalties. The form now complies with the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
The revised I-9 form removed five documents from the list of acceptable documents. None of these documents have been acceptable for over 10 years but USCIS did not amend the form until now. Employers may no longer accept: 1) Certificate of US Citizenship; 2) Certificate of Naturalization; 3) Form 151 (out-of-date Alien Registration Receipt Card); 4) Unexpired Reentry Permit; and 5) Unexpired Refugee travel document. USCIS added form I-766 (Unexpired Employment Authorization document) to the list of acceptable documents.
Another change to the I-9 form is that it is voluntary for employees to give employers a social security number on the form. Employers may not require social security numbers unless the employer participates in the USCIS Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification Program (E-Verify). The new I-9 form is dated 6/5/07. Any prior versions of the I-9 form are unacceptable.
USCIS also issued a new Handbook for Employers to complement the revised I-9 form. The Handbook is dated 11/01/2007. The Handbook is a great reference guide that should be reviewed and kept as a resource tool by all employers. USCIS indicated that the form and corresponding regulations may go through further changes in the near future.
Employers face consequences for mishandling I-9 forms
The most common mistakes made on I-9 forms are when employers fail to completely fill out and sign Section 2 of the form. Employers will often make copies of the documents given by the employees believing this can done in place of actually filling out the form. It is not necessary to make copies of the documents presented but if copies are made, it should be done for every employee. Employers who only make copies for employees of certain national origins may be liable for discrimination. Employers should also be certain that employees are fully completing and signing Section 1. Employers may only accept the documents listed on the revised I-9 form and cannot require an employee to submit certain documents.
Failure to properly follow the I-9 regulations can subject employers to penalties. If an employer is found to have knowingly hired unauthorized aliens, the penalties range from $275 to $11,000 for each authorized alien. If an employer fails to properly complete, retain or make I-9 forms available for inspection, the fines range from $110 to $1,100 for each individual. There are also criminal penalties that range from imprisonment for six months to five years.
The I-9 forms must be kept for three years after the date of hire or one year after the date employment is terminated, whichever is later. The forms can be retained in paper, microfilm, microfiche or electronically. In the event of an audit, the forms must be produced within three days.
Both the I-9 form and Handbook are available at www.uscis.gov.« Back to news