U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued an updated Form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verification Form. All employers in the U.S. are required by law to obtain employment eligibility information from employees and keep these forms on file. The changes to the form are minor, but immigration authorities are requiring all employers to use the new forms for all new employees beginning May 7, 2013. They will reportedly consider use of the old form after that date as noncompliance with recordkeeping requirements, resulting in penalties for the employer. Employers do not need to replace the forms on file for existing employees, but must use the new form for any employee reverifications.
The purpose of Form I-9 is to give employers a way to verify each employee’s eligibility for employment in the U.S. The form requires the employer to review two types of documentation from the employee: documentation verifying the employee’s identity, and documentation of work authorization. Documents that prove U.S. citizenship or permanent residence, such as a passport or green card, can serve both purposes. Acceptable identification documents may include a driver’s license or other government-issued identification. Documents establishing work authorization may include a work card issued by USCIS or a social security card. The employer is not expected to perform a thorough analysis of each document’s validity, but must confirm that the documents at least appear valid. Some states use E-Verify, an online system that enables employers to check an employee’s information against multiple federal databases to confirm work authorization, but employers nationwide must still keep I-9s on file in paper, digital, microfilm, or microfiche format. They must keep the form until the later of three years from an employee’s hire date, or one year after the date of termination.
The new Form I-9 bears the edition date of March 8, 2013. After May 6, employers may not use earlier versions of the form. The form is available online as a PDF file with fillable fields and drop-down options. The new Form I-9 is two pages long instead of one, with changes to the size of the print and the layout, according to USCIS’ blog. It also has new fields that allow the employee to include a telephone number and email address.
Failure to keep records in accordance with immigration regulations can result in fines against the employer, ranging from $110 to $1,100 per employee with inadequate documentation. An administrative law judge determines the amount of the penalty, giving consideration to factors such as the employer’s prior history of violations, the employee’s immigration status, the size of the employer, and the severity of the violation. The judge may also consider whether the employer made a good faith error in failing to keep proper documentation.
Immigration attorney Samuel C. Berger practices in the New York and New Jersey areas. We represent immigrants, prospective immigrants, family members petitioning for a loved one, and employers who want to bring a worker to the United States. Contact us today online or at (212) 380-8117 to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our legal team.
More Blog Posts:
I-9 Audits on the Rise, According to Federal Immigration Authorities, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, January 4, 2013
Natural Disasters and I-9 Compliance, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, November 9, 2012
Justice Department Sues Employer for Alleged Violations of I-9 Rules, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, October 19, 2012
Photo credit: Via uscis.gov.