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New Changes to the I-9 Form Hiring Managers Must Know

After 10 years HR’s favorite new hire document, the I-9, recently had a facelift. The new form – available now by clicking here – was released by the Department of Homeland Security in March 2013 and employers are required to begin using the new form by May 7, 2013. While the form was upgraded, the same rules regarding the completion of the I-9 apply.

  • Employers have 72 hours from the time of hire to complete the I-9 form or risk penalties and fines.
  • Employees must complete their portion of the I-9 form on or before their first day of employment.
  • Companies cannot specify which documents new employees are required to bring.

I-9 Fines, Penalties and Violations

As human resource professionals we oversee the process, fines and violations that are directly tied to our department, spotlighting an accomplishment that we don’t necessarily want to be recognized. Since 2009, over 7,500 audits have been conducted resulting in over $80 million in fines. The challenge with I-9s is that HR serves as the process manager, but the responsibility is often times left in the hands of your hiring manager. This process makes it even more important to conduct regular audits, in addition to ensuring that your employees are truly authorized to work in the USA.

Fines for failing to complete I-9s vary and are categorized in four different ways:

  • Failing to complete an I-9.
  • Knowingly hiring or continuing to hire or contracting the services of a worker who is unauthorized.
  • Providing or knowingly accepting false documents.
  • A documented pattern and practice of I-9 form violations.

While these fines are relatively small for first time violations at $110, repeat offenders can see I-9 error penalties skyrocket. Employers can be fined for individual errors like the five described below at $110 per missing item or $1,100 per form. The accountability for HR lies in the training and constant monitoring of the compliance process, ensuring smooth sailing when you receive the inevitable visit from ICE who assessed nearly $13 million in fines in 2012.

Changes to the New I-9 Form

With the new form there are five distinct changes I’d like to call your attention to:

  • Although this information is not required, employees can provide an email and phone number in Section 1.
  • Additional information is required for those who mark “An Alien Authorized to Work Until” in Section 1.
  • Employers must add the employee’s last name and first name to the top of Section 2.
  • List sections under acceptable documents are more defined. The new List A column provides more direction and instruction, hopefully leaving you and your hiring manager with less margin for error.
  • Clarification made to non-acceptable Social Security Card documents.

How HR Technology Can Help

Although the changes are a welcome addition, there is still a justifiable need for HR technology to help streamline the process and reduce exposure to you and your business. One of the best choices you can make is to use the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify® system to electronically verify your employees’ eligibility to work in the U.S. Look for vendors of payroll and HR software that provide this service from within their application. It will help automate the new hire workflow by allowing employees to complete electronic I-9s that are then submitted and saved in the system.