Maintaining proper documentation for your employees is vital to ensure compliance with regulations. Form I-9 is periodically updated to reflect changes in employment eligibility verification procedures, and keeping up with these updates is essential.
What is Form I-9?
Form I-9, also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification form, is a crucial document used by employers in the United States to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals they hire. This form is essential to ensure that all employees hired are eligible to work legally in the United States. Completing Form I-9 for all hires is a legal requirement, and there are severe penalties for making errors or failing to complete the form at all.
Here's a brief overview of Form I-9:
- Purpose: The primary purpose of Form I-9 is to establish an individual's eligibility to work in the U.S. and to prevent the employment of unauthorized workers.
- Completion: Both the employer and the employee have specific responsibilities regarding Form I-9. The employee must complete Section 1 of the form on their first day of employment, while the employer must complete Section 2 within three business days of the employee's first day of work.
- Documents: To complete Form I-9, employees must provide documentation to establish their identity and eligibility to work. The form lists acceptable documents, such as a U.S. passport, driver's license, Social Security card, or a combination of documents.
- Retention: Employers are required to retain completed Form I-9s for each employee. These records must be kept for three years after the date of hire or for one year after the employee's employment ends, whichever is later.
- Audits and Compliance: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may conduct audits and inspections of an employer's Form I-9 records to ensure compliance with immigration laws. Non-compliance can result in fines and penalties.
What happens if I don't comply?
Failing to properly complete and retain Form I-9 can result in significant penalties for employers in the United States. Penalties can vary depending on the severity of the violation and whether the violations are found during an audit or inspection by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Here are some potential penalties:
- Paperwork Violations: These are less severe violations, often related to incomplete or incorrect paperwork. Penalties for paperwork violations can range from $234 to $2,342 per violation, depending on the number of violations found.
- Hiring Unauthorized Workers: If an employer knowingly hires or continues to employ individuals who are not authorized to work in the U.S., they can face fines ranging from $573 to $23,148 per unauthorized worker for the first offense. Subsequent offenses can result in higher fines.
- Egregious Violations: In cases of repeated or widespread violations, where there is a pattern or practice of hiring unauthorized workers, employers can face significantly higher fines. These can go up to $25,000 per violation.
- Civil and Criminal Penalties: In addition to fines, employers can also face civil and criminal penalties if they engage in a pattern or practice of knowingly hiring unauthorized workers. Criminal penalties can include fines and imprisonment for individuals responsible for the violations.
It's crucial for employers, to take Form I-9 compliance seriously to avoid these penalties. We can provide guidance and assistance to ensure that you understand and follow the rules and regulations related to Form I-9. This expertise can help you avoid costly legal issues.
Key Updates to the Form I-9
- Section 1 and 2 are condensed onto one page.
- It can be filled out on tablets and mobile devices.
- It separates The Section I Preparer/Translator Certification area into a separate supplement.
- Section 3, Reverification and Rehire has moved to a separate supplement.
- Updated Lists of Acceptable Documents page to include receipts and information on extensions.
- The instructions from 15 pages to 8 pages have been reduced.
- A checkbox is included for employers to indicate remote examination of documentation.
We understand that these changes may present challenges for your business, and we are here to support you throughout this transition. For more detailed information and guidance, please book a FREE discovery call with one of our qualified consultants.
Together, let’s ensure your company avoids I-9 fines and violations and stays in compliance with I-9 regulations.