The “most complicated one-page form in America” just got a little less complicated.
On March 8, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a revised version of Employment Eligibility Verification Form, also known as Form I-9.
Beginning May 8, it will be mandatory for employers to only use Form I-9 (Rev. 03/08/13)N to document the identity and employment authorization of each new employee – both citizen and noncitizen.
What it is
When hired for a new job, employees are required to prove they are legally entitled to work in the United States. Employers are required by law to verify the identity and eligibility to work for all new employees.
To verify employment eligibility, employees may choose from a list of “acceptable documents” – for example, a U.S. Passport or Permanent Resident Card, or a combination of documents such as a valid, state-issued driver’s license and Social Security card.
The changes to the I-9 have had little impact on local staffing agencies, Advance Services and Grapevine Staffing.
Ashley Crill of Advance Services finds the updated I-9 form to be simpler and easier to fill out.
“Overall, the form is more readable as far as where the information goes,” said Crill. “Switching to the new document was a little bit easier.”
Advance Services’ staff’s response to the new I-9 form echoes Crill’s thoughts.
“Everyone was thinking it was easier to read and there would be less errors,” said Crill. “There is more clarification and less room for error.”
The most notable change is the larger, clearly identified fields for entering information. Instead of providing a line to write information on, boxes help the preparer and verifiers efficiently fill out the correct field.
“The larger fields have turned the one page form into two,” said Crill.
Staffing Manager Kathy Achenbach of Grapevine Staffing said the only problem she foresees is keeping the two forms together.
“The form will need to be stapled if not printed double-sided,” said Achenbach.
Achenbach said slight changes, such as the “maiden name” field now reading as “other names used” are more accommodating.
Fields to provide an email address and telephone number are also recent additions, which are optional, and have not previously been featured on the I-9 form.
Additionally, aliens authorized to work in the United States are required to provide an alien registration or USCIS number, or a Form I-94 admission number.
Form I-94 is provided to foreign workers by either Customs and Border Protection (CPB) at the time of entry or by USCIS and is usually kept by the worker in his or her passport.
Employers who fail to comply with the changes set forth by USCIS face potential audits and civil and criminal penalties. Because compliance issues can be intentional or unintentional, many employers are taking it upon themselves to seek training for their human resource staff to better understand the new I-9 employment verification and eligibility requirements.
A potential technical or procedural error, such as formatting the date, can earn employers a fine.
“There is not a single person that has not done something incorrectly,” said Achenbach. “Sometimes you don’t even know you’ve done it incorrectly.”
Achenbach said to maintain I-9 compliance, she attended training in Council Bluffs, which was sponsored by Southwest Iowa Employers’ Council.
“The class is taught to not make mistakes,” said Achenbach. “I take it every year, and every year I learn something new.”
Achenbach said the class is important because all employers are subject to an audit.
“Amy Peck, the presenter, gave us an overview of the whole I-9, the changes and everything that needs to be done correctly, how to fill it (Form I-9) out and how to fill it out correctly,” said Achenbach. “I definitely recommend the class.”
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Spokesman Shawn Neudauer said penalties can range from a fine of $100 to more than $16,000 per violation.
“Penalties depend upon the violation and the employer’s cooperation,” said Neudauer.
Neudauer said violations, whether intentional or unintentional are at risk for penalties. He said some common violations were as simple as checking the wrong box or misspelling an employee’s name.
Nuedauer said employers or employees who provide false information, regardless of intent, can be referred to the United States Attorney’s office to face criminal charges.
Even though the updated Form I-9 (Rev. 03/08/13)N, is available, employers may continue to use previously accepted versions; Form I-9 (Rev. 02/02/09)N and Form I-9 (Rev. 08/07/09)Y until May 7. However, beginning May 8, all employers are required to use the new form.
The newly revised Form I-9 (Rev. 03/08/13)N is available for download at www.uscis.gov.