New I-9 Form: Everything You Need to Know to Stay in Compliance
The new version of the I-9 Form, introduced by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in August 2023, became mandatory as of November 1. Employers across the U.S. must now adopt the 2023 form for verifying their employees' identities and employment authorizations.
Using earlier versions of the I-9 Form is no longer allowed and may result in significant penalties. To ensure that your business is using the correct version of the form, verify the edition date found in the lower left corner, which should display "08/01/23."
Continue reading to learn more about the 2023 changes to the I-9 Form and what your business needs to do to avoid mistakes and stay compliant.
What is the I-9 Employment Eligibility Form?
The I-9 Employment Eligibility Form is a document used in the United States for employment eligibility and identity verification of individuals hired for employment. This form, mandated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is a crucial component of the hiring process for employers.
When a person is hired, both the employee and the employer are required to complete the I-9 Form:
- The employee is responsible for providing documentation to establish their identity and work authorization, such as a U.S. passport, driver's license, Social Security card, or other acceptable forms of identification.
- The employer, in turn, must review and verify these documents to ensure that the employee is legally eligible to work in the United States.
Both U.S. citizens and noncitizens must complete the form, which is aimed at helping employers comply with immigration laws. Employers must complete the Form I-9 accurately and retain it for a specified period in case an audit is requested.
To download the new I-9 Form, visit the USCIS website. You can either download and fill the PDF directly or get a printable copy that you can fill in manually.
A Spanish version of the Form is also available for download, but you should note that it can only be used by employers in Puerto Rico.
I-9 Form 2023: Employer Obligations
All employers must:
- Have a completed I-9 Form for each employee on their payroll;
- Keep Forms I-9 for up to three full years after the hiring date or for one year after employment is terminated (whichever is later);
- Make the forms available for inspection if required by an authorized U.S. government agency.
For additional information about employees' and employers' obligations concerning the Employment Eligibility Form, review and download USCIS's "Instructions for Form I-9".
Is There a New I-9 Form for 2023?
Although the I-9 Form introduced in August 2023 is similar to the previous edition, the USCIS did make some significant changes that employers should be aware of:
- They ensured the form could be filled out on mobile devices and tablets.
- Sections 1 and 2 were reduced to a single-sided sheet. Multiple fields were merged into fewer fields.
- Section 1's "Prepared/Translator Certification" area was moved to standalone Supplement A. Employers can provide this separate supplement to employees if needed.
- Section 3's "Reverification and Rehire" area was moved to Supplement B. Employers must print this separate section when a rehire occurs.
- They updated the note at the top of the form explaining how to avoid discrimination while completing the I-9 Form.
- They added a box that employers must check if Form I-9 documentation was examined under a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) alternative procedure (E-Verify vs. physical examination).
What is the E-Verify Option & What Does it Mean For Employers?
The changes introduced in 2023 to the I-9 Form align with new regulations permitting the remote examination of documents to verify employment eligibility. This highlights USCIS's ongoing efforts to enhance and streamline the employment verification process.
Businesses enrolled in E-Verify can now remotely review their employees' I-9 Form identity and employment authorization documentation.
Employers choosing remote verification of documents must indicate this on the new Form I-9 by checking the designated box in Section 2 within the "Additional Information" field.
Additionally, employers must maintain copies of all remotely examined I-9 documents alongside the employee's Form I-9 in case an inspection is required.
Completing the Updated I-9 Form 2023
The new I-9 is a fillable form, which means employers can complete it by typing the answers directly on the form rather than having to print it and complete it manually.
The form consists of the following four sections:
Page 1 of the I-9 Form
Employees must complete Section 1 and present acceptable documents to their employers. Employers must then examine the documents and complete the bottom section of Page 1.
If the employer has chosen to examine the employee's documentation remotely, they must tick the box in Section 2 ("Check here is you used an alternative procedure authorized by DHS to examine documents")..
This page contains a list of documents that employees must present to attest to their identity and employment eligibility. Employers do not need to store a copy of this page with an employee's I-9 Form.
This page contains Supplement A, "Preparer or Translator Certification" for Section 1.
This section must be completed if the employee uses a translator. Employers must keep a copy of this page with the employee's I-9 Form.
Page 4 contains Supplement B, which must only be completed for rehires or when a re-verification is required. Employers only need to store this page along with an employee's I-9 Form if it was filled out.
Penalties for Mistakes or Omissions on the New I-9 Forms
Penalties for inaccuracies or omissions in I-9 forms – including using outdated versions – now range from $272 to $2,701 per unauthorized employee for initial violations.
In the event of an audit, a brief response window is typically granted by the government to prevent retroactive record acquisition attempts, often causing unprepared employers to panic.
Therefore, it is recommended for HR professionals to stay informed about the latest changes in the new I-9 Form employment verification process, including regulations and procedures, to ensure compliance, avert penalties, and be ready for potential audits.
Stay Up-To-Date With the Latest Changes to the I-9 Form
Beginning November 1, 2023, employers must exclusively use the new Form I-9 and carefully review its instructions. Understanding the prerequisites for remote verification and document retention is essential, and employers are encouraged to seek guidance from compliance and immigration experts for any inquiries.
Proactive measures are the best defense. Employers possessing a comprehensive understanding of the I-9 employment verification process and procedures may avoid the financial burden of substantial fines in the future.
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