Suffering from I-9 Pain? New Updates Make It Easier

The task of verifying identity and work authorization for new hires in the U.S. should go more smoothly with the new update to the I-9 Form. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced new changes that will make the process easier. Here’s the
breakdown:

When Must My Business Start Using the New I-9 Form?

The new I-9 form must be used as of January 22, 2017. The last version, dated 03/08/2013, will not be valid after that date. You can find the new form here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9

What’s Better About It?

The new form aims to make the I-9 easier to understand and use. The new form separates instructions from the form body, bringing it in line with other USCIS forms, and it includes specific instructions for completing each field.

Specific changes to the form include:

  • A change in Section 1 now asks for “other last names used” instead of “other names used” and the form streamlines certification for certain foreign nationals.
  • The addition of prompts to ensure information is entered correctly.
  • The ability to enter multiple preparers and translators.
  • A dedicated area for including additional information rather than having to add it in the margins.
  • A supplemental page for the preparer/translator.

Is the Online I-9 Better Too?

There are improvements to the online version of the form, as well. Look for overall ease-of-use, plus enhancements including:

  • Drop-down lists and calendars for filling in dates.
  • On-screen instructions for each field.
  • Easy access to the full instructions.
  • An option to clear the form and start over.
  • Easy form identification – when the employer prints the completed form, a quick response (QR) code is automatically generated, which can be read by most QR readers.

Remind Me, Why Should I Care About I-9 Forms?

Form I-9 requirements were established in November 1986 when Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). IRCA prohibits employers from hiring people, including U.S. citizens, for employment in the United States without verifying their identity and employment authorization on Form I-9. IRCA requires most employers to retain the I-9 for 3 years after the date employment begins or one year after the person’s employment is terminated, whichever is later. The law provides steep penalties for incorrect or missing Form I-9s. IRCA also imposes anti-discrimination rules on employers, which can result in additional fines and penalties for failing to hire an authorized worker for discriminatory reasons, for demanding specific documents to prove work authorization, for asking to see more than the minimum documents needed, and other reasons.

Employers found to engage in a pattern or practice of employing unauthorized workers are subject to criminal penalties and civil actions that could lead to business-crippling injunctions. For example, a recent federal investigation into suspected IRCA violations against a large franchisee of 7-11 stores led to penalties that included the forced revocation of the franchisee’s franchise rights.

Avoiding these dire outcomes starts with following the Form I-9 requirements.

For these reasons, it’s critical for employers of all sizes to create policies and processes to ensure IRCA compliance, complete and retain Form I-9s on all hires, regularly audit their Form I-9 records. Above all, they should seek help from a qualified employment lawyer when they discover IRCA violations, or need to respond to inquiries or site visits from USCIS or U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE).

Contact a Chicago Employment Law Attorney

Savine Employment Law, Ltd. represents Chicago and Illinois employers in all aspects of labor and employment law. Our starting point is a preventive approach – we first aim to ensure our clients comply with the law and avoid employee disputes. When disputes arise, we look for peaceful paths to resolution that service the business’s goals. When lawsuits result, we defend our clients aggressively and creatively. Call Savine Employment Law, Ltd. today for a Chicago employment lawyer.