The Form I-9 process can have serious consequences for employers if it is not managed properly. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) almost doubled in sizethe fine amounts for I-9 violations in August 2016. In the latest PreCheck white paper, “The Form I-9 and E-Verify: Keys to Compliance,” immigration attorney Nicole A. Kersey discusses the latest best practices for employers to maintain compliant I-9 processes. “Many employers forget that the Form I-9 is a legal document, including attestations under penalty of perjury by both the employee and the employer,” Kersey states.
The white paper is intended to give employers an overview of the Form I-9 and E-Verify requirements and to provide helpful pointers for ensuring compliance. The following is a brief overview of the topics covered.
The New Form I-9
On November 14, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a revised version of the Form I-9, which is available in two versions. “The instructions for the Form I-9 are now 15 pages in length,” Kersey explains. “The additional pages are due largely to the addition of detailed suggestions relating to document title abbreviations.” As part of her discussion of the new Form I-9, Kersey covers 11 additional key changes employers should be aware when working with the recently updated versions of the document.
Increasing I-9 Fines
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the agency within the Department of Homeland Security that enforces the I-9 regulations through targeted inspections of employers. As of 2016, the fines have almost doubled in size, making I-9 compliance an even greater critical part of the hiring process. “ICE inspections can result in civil fines for paperwork violations ranging from $110-$2,156 per I-9, civil fines for knowingly employing or continuing to employ authorized workers ranging from $375-$21,563 per employee, possible criminal prosecution, and referral to other agencies for additional investigations,” Kersey states.
Copying and Retaining Documents
Besides proper completion of the Form I-9s sections, employers have additional considerations for ensuring compliance with government regulations. “Employers must make a policy decision: to make and keep copies of the identity and work authorization documentation presented by employees, or to not make and not keep the copies,” Kersey suggests. “The policy must be followed consistently for all new hires.” Additionally, she recommends consulting with an attorney to determine which policy best suits your organization’s needs.
Document retention is another area where employers can get into trouble for I-9 violations. The Form I-9 must be kept on file for all active employees (hired after November 6, 1986). For former employees, the form must be kept for the longer of 3 years from the date of hire or 1 year from the date of termination, after which they may be destroyed.
Continue Reading: Gain a greater understanding of Form I-9 and E-Verify compliance with the full-length white paper, available as a free download from the PreCheck Resources Library.