New “Smart” Form I-9 Announced
On August 25, 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a revised Form I-9 for use in Employment Eligibility Verification. The revised form will be published by November 22, 2016. Employers should continue using the current version of the Form I-9 (with a revision date of 03/08/2013 N) until the agency provides further notice about the new form version’s availability. The current form will be acceptable for use until Jan. 21, 2017. After this date, all prior versions of the form, including the current version, will be invalid.
Why This Matters
The new “smart” Form I-9 is designed to reduce technical errors for which employers may be fined. Specifically, these changes include a version of Form I-9 that can be accessed and completed on the USCIS website. The new Form I-9 will not be a true ‘electronic’ form and will not be submitted directly to USCIS via their website. Instead, it will resemble a more user-friendly PDF form with advanced drop-down options designed for easier form completion. Employers will still be required to print Form I-9, obtain the appropriate employee and employer representative signatures, and retain the form according to retention requirements.
The changes to the Form I-9 are particularly relevant in light of significantly increased fines for Form I-9 violations. The “Civil Monetary Penalties Inflation Adjustment” Final Rule took effect on August 1, 2016, and provides substantial fines for mistakes or omissions on Form I-9. The fines have increased from $110-$1,100 per violation to $216-$2,156 per violation. This increase highlights the government’s continued focus on employer compliance with federal immigration laws, evidenced by the increased number of I-9 audits over the past five years.
What to Do?
In consideration of the upcoming changes to Form I-9, and the recent increase in I-9 related fines and penalties, employers should take this opportunity to conduct audits of their Form I-9s and ensure they have an I-9 compliance policy in place.