The I-9 form, officially known as the Employment Eligibility Verification form, is a critical document used in the hiring process within the United States. Introduced as part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, the I-9 form is designed to verify both the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the U.S. In this blog post, we will unpack the components of the I-9 form, share why compliance is essential, and highlight notable changes from the latest form update.

Purpose of the I-9 Form

The primary purpose of the I-9 form is to ensure that all employees hired in the United States are authorized to work. This form helps prevent the employment of unauthorized workers and contributes to the enforcement of immigration laws. By requiring both employees and employers to complete specific sections of the form, the I-9 process promotes accountability and compliance with federal regulations.

Importance of Compliance

Employers are required to retain completed I-9 forms for all employees for three years after the date of hire or one year after employment ends, whichever is later. Maintaining accurate and up-to-date I-9 forms is crucial, as failure to comply with I-9 requirements can result in significant penalties, including fines and legal consequences.

The fines for paperwork violations range from $252 to $2,507 per form, depending on the severity and frequency of the violations. Companies found in violation may be subjected to increased scrutiny and audits by ICE, leading to more frequent inspections and a higher likelihood of discovering further violations. And fines for hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized workers can reach up to $27,018 for repeat offenses.

Section 1: Employee Information and Attestation

The I-9 form is divided into three main sections. The first section of the I-9 form is completed by the employee and includes personal information and an attestation regarding their employment eligibility. The section includes:

Personal Information: Employees must provide their full name, other names used (if any), address, date of birth, Social Security number (optional for noncitizens), email address, and telephone number.

Citizenship or Immigration Status: Employees must attest to their citizenship or immigration status by checking one of four boxes: U.S. citizen, noncitizen national, lawful permanent resident, or an alien authorized to work.

Alien Registration Number/USCIS Number: If applicable, employees must provide their Alien Registration Number/USCIS Number or Form I-94 Admission Number.

Signature and Date: Employees must sign and date the form to certify the accuracy of the information provided.

Section 2: Employer Review and Verification

Section 2 of the I-9 form is completed by the employer and involves reviewing the employee’s documents to verify their identity and employment authorization. The section includes:

Employee Information from Section 1: Employers must verify that the information provided by the employee matches the documents presented.

Document Review: Employers must examine original documents presented by the employee that establish identity and employment authorization. These documents are categorized into three lists:

List A: Documents that establish both identity and employment authorization (e.g., U.S. passport, Permanent Resident Card).

List B: Documents that establish identity (e.g., driver’s license, state ID card).

List C: Documents that establish employment authorization (e.g., Social Security card, birth certificate).

Recording Document Information: Employers must record the document title, issuing authority, document number, and expiration date (if applicable) for each document reviewed.

Certification: Employers must enter the employee’s first day of employment, sign and date the form, and provide their name, title, and organization name and address.

 Section 3: Reverification and Rehires

The last section used by employers to reverify an employee’s employment authorization or to record changes in the employee’s name or rehiring details. Section 3 of the I-9 form includes:

Reverification: Employers must complete this section if the employee’s previous work authorization has expired. The employer must review and record new documents showing continued eligibility to work.

Rehire: If rehiring an employee within three years of the original I-9 form date, employers must complete this section with the rehire date and any updated information.

Signature and Date: Employers must sign and date the form, and provide their name and title.

Changes to the I-9 Form and Instructions

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published updates to the I-9 form and its instructions in 2023. Employers are required to use the new version as of November 1, 2023.

Here’s a summary of the key changes:

Streamlined Form: The new I-9 form is condensed to a single-sided sheet, making it easier to complete and review.

Section 1: The employee attestation options have been revised for clarity, making it simpler for employees to understand and select their correct employment authorization status.

Section 2: The list of acceptable documents has been reorganized to improve usability. Employers will now find it easier to locate and verify the appropriate documents presented by employees.

Reverification and Rehires: Changes in Section 3 include clearer guidelines and simplified processes for employers when reverifying employment authorization or rehiring an employee.

Digital and Remote Options: The form and instructions now include updated guidance for digital and remote verification processes, reflecting the increased use of remote work arrangements.

Expanded Instructions: The instructions have been expanded to provide more detailed explanations and examples, helping both employees and employers better understand their responsibilities.

E-Verify Integration: Enhanced integration with the E-Verify system is highlighted, encouraging employers to use this tool for additional verification of employment eligibility.

Compliance Tips: The instructions now include tips and best practices for maintaining compliance with I-9 regulations, helping employers avoid common pitfalls and errors.

These changes aim to simplify the I-9 form completion process, improve clarity, and enhance compliance with employment eligibility verification requirements.

Understanding the components and purpose of the I-9 form is essential for both employers and employees. This form plays a vital role in verifying employment eligibility and maintaining compliance with U.S. immigration laws. By ensuring that the I-9 form is completed accurately and retained properly, employers can contribute to a lawful and transparent hiring process, safeguarding their organization and supporting the integrity of the U.S. workforce.

For more guidance on navigating compliance requirements, connect with an Asure small business HR expert.

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