The seemingly simple Form I-9, mandated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), represents a critical checkpoint in the onboarding process. It serves as the gatekeeper to verifying new hires' employment eligibility, shielding your organization from potential legal entanglements, and ensuring compliance with federal regulations. However, the recent November 2023 revision may have introduced some complexities.
This blog will help you to navigate the updated Form I-9 confidently and avoid potentially costly mistakes.
Misinterpretations or inaccuracies on the I-9 are not mere clerical errors; they can trigger significant financial consequences. In 2022 alone, employers faced an average fine of $1,189 per violation, a figure that can escalate rapidly depending on the severity and frequency of non-compliance. Additionally, potential reputational damage and costly legal proceedings can further magnify the consequences of I-9 mistakes. Therefore, meticulous attention to detail and a thorough understanding of the revised form are paramount for safeguarding your organization's well-being.
The revised Form I-9 is designed to be simpler and more user-friendly than its predecessor. Notable changes include:
Inclusion of New Fields: The updated form introduces additional fields for passport information and details related to foreign driver's licenses.
Elimination of Social Security Number Requirement: Providing the Social Security number in the Social Security number field is voluntary, unless the employer participates in E-Verify. Enhanced Document Guidelines: The revised form provides clearer and more comprehensive guidance on acceptable documents for verifying both identity and employment eligibility.
Reverification and Rehiring Procedures: These processes now involve using a dedicated form known as Supplement B. While this fosters increased organization, it also poses the risk of accidental oversight. Employers are strongly advised to thoroughly review the new Form I-9 instructions to comprehend all the modifications fully and ensure they follow the updated requirements.
Here’s how you can master the new I-9 in 7 simple steps:
Document Gathering: Collect the necessary documents based on the employee's status, consulting the updated USCIS list for guidance. Look out for specific additions like receipts for document replacements and visa notations, ensuring you accept all valid proofs within the revised categories.
Follow Instructions: Treat the instructions as your guide through the I-9 process, ensuring compliance with legal requirements. Skipping them is similar to navigating mindlessly, which may lead to complications and fines.
Note: As per USCIS, employers may be penalized if Form I-9 is not properly completed or if employment discrimination occurs during the employment eligibility verification process. See 8 U.S.C. section 1324a and section 1324b, 8 CFR section 274a.10 and 28 CFR Part 44.
Preparer/Translator Certification: The Preparer/Translator Certification has moved to Supplement A. Ensure accurate completion by all involved parties and attach it to the completed form. This certification remains valid for three years after the employee's departure.
Complete Signatures: Avoid leaving any spaces blank. Both the employer and employee must sign and date the designated sections, including the employee's attestation statement. Unsigned forms may pose legal risks.
Note: Employers creating, modifying, or storing Form I-9 electronically are encouraged to review relevant standards for electronic signatures.
Make Copies: Keep completed I-9 forms as a legal record. Make a copy and retain it for three years after employment ends or one year after the form's expiration. Consider it an insurance policy against memory lapses and legal issues.
Supplement B: Pay attention to this essential form for reverification and rehiring. Establish clear procedures and training to ensure its proper use, conducting regular record reviews to catch any missed supplements.
Stay Updated and Seek Expert Guidance: I-9 regulations are subject to change. Bookmark the USCIS website and periodically check for updates or revisions to ensure your practices align with the latest requirements. Feel free to seek professional legal guidance for complex scenarios or interpretations of the form. By remaining informed and proactive, you can confidently adapt to evolving regulations and navigate the I-9 landscape.
Mastering the new Form I-9 may seem daunting, but with the insights provided in this blog, you can navigate its complexities with confidence. Remember, accuracy is not just an option; it's a shield against legal penalties and reputational damage. Embrace this new landscape, equip your team with knowledge, and embark on a compliant onboarding journey with peace of mind. OnBlick’s I-9 Assist solution streamlines Form I-9 compliance, offering a user-friendly platform that covers the entire process. From electronic signature capabilities to automated re-verification reminders, OnBlick provides comprehensive audit trails and simplified workflows. This approach enhances accuracy, reduces errors, and minimizes the risk of penalties. Schedule a demo to learn more about I-9 Assist.