When it comes to employment compliance, the Form I-9 is very important. This is the form used to verify your employees’ work eligibility status. By not correctly following the Form I-9 compliance guidelines, employers risk paying hefty fines and penalties for each violation.
To help ensure your business is following all the rules surrounding this document, we have compiled a list of what you need to know to correctly follow Form I-9 compliance. This list is not meant to be considered as comprehensive.
1. Be Aware of The Increased Form I-9 Compliance Penalties
Beginning August 1, 2016, penalties for not following Form I-9 compliance increased significantly. In some cases, the fine nearly doubled what it was last year. Because of this, it is even more important for business owners and managers to be aware of all the requirements associated with the form.
The new Form I-9 violation penalties are broken down into two categories. One focuses on employers who knowingly employ individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States. The second category of fines is for Form I-9 paperwork violations.
The new penalties for employing unauthorized workers are:
- First offender fines range between $539 to $4,313 per individual. (Previously $375 to $3,200)
- Repeat offenders are now between $6,469 and $21,563. (Previously $4,300 to $16,000)
The range for the new fines for incorrect Form I-9 paperwork is between $216 and $2,156 per infraction. Previously, this amount was between $110 and $1,100.
2. The 3-Day Rule Does Not Excuse Employees From the Completing The Form I-9 On The First Day of Employment
A common misconception with the Form I-9’s 3-Day Rule is that employers believe this means they have up to three business days before they are required to have employees complete the Form l-9. The truth is this rule only applies to the employer portion of the document, Section 2.
All employees are required to fill out their portion, Section 1, of the Form I-9 by end of business on the first day of employment.
We recommend employers dutifully follow the specifications of the 3-Day Rule. Otherwise, you face the risk of having to pay fines associated with not following Form I-9 compliance in the event of an audit.
Keep in mind, it is a federal violation to allow an employee to work for you who has not provided the required documentation.
3. Attaching Documents Does Not Substitute Filling Out Section 2
Having copies of the required documentation does not relieve you from the requirement of listing said paperwork in Section 2 of the Form I-9. You must still list which documents were used in the correct column, as well as certify that you saw
Further, make sure you are listing the appropriate documents in their respective column. Listing a document in the wrong column may result in a penalty for incorrect paperwork.
Please note, if your company has a policy to retain copies of all documentation used for Form I-9 purposes, it is recommended that you store these files separately from your employees; files.
4. Always Double Check You Are Using the Correct Version of the I-9 Form
In order to follow Form I-9 compliance guidelines, it is important to ensure you are always using the correct version of the document. To check, look at the revision date printed on the bottom right-hand corner of the form, as well as the expiration date.
It is important to note that if it is past the Form I-9’s expiration date but the Department of Homeland Security has not yet released an updated version of the documents, employers can continue to use the previous version without penalty. That said, when the new version is released, you must immediately start using the updated copy.
The Department of Homeland Security’s website maintains the most current, accepted version of the Form I-9.
In addition, there is a Spanish version of the Form I-9 that is only accepted for use in Puerto Rico. Employers in other states and territories are allowed to use this version as a guideline for Spanish speaking Employees. However, they are only permitted to submit the English version as the official document for their staff.