In November 2016 a new I-9 form was issued with an effective date of January 22, 2017, which made changes to the I-9 form and the process for completing this form. There were some major changes in that form in the documentation required by the employee and the information the employer was required to verify. Every employer is required to fill out this form for all employees.
Now they have released another new form effective July 17, 2017. While there are no dramatic changes from the January to July form, you are required to use the correct form when you hire a new employee. My recommendation is to always go to the Website to download the form with every new employee rather than making copies to use for the future. Here is the link to US Citizenship and Immigration Services so you can book mark for future use.
Most of the fines related to the I-9 process of verifying that employees can legally work in the United States have been caused by documentation issues rather than because of hiring employees who are not authorized to work in the US. This fact alone should cause you to review your process and understand the changes on the new form.
On the form, section 1 (one) must be filled out completely by the employee. That means that not only are all the boxes filled out, but the employee must sign as well. The employee must check the box to identify their legal status to work in the US. The employer is responsible for reviewing the form and making sure all information is provided by the employee. The other new item on the employee side of the form is the use of a translator. If someone needs a translator to explain the form, that translator must be identified on Section 1 and this requires a signature of the translator.
Section 2 on the I-9 form is to be filled out by the employer. There were some changes in acceptable forms with the January changes and the lists have been updated. On this page there is a box for “other”. This should be used only for documenting the eVerify number or documentation of a special program with a number entered. Do not use this box for comments.
The other new process on the I-9 form is that the person who reviews the documents provided by the employee must be the person that signs the form. An example would be a department leader sees the documents, fills in the form, and then sends the document to HR to be signed. That is not allowed. The person signing the form must be the person who actually views the supporting documents provided by the employee.
The fines for noncompliance have been increased as well. The fines for an incomplete or no form have increased to between $216 and $2,156 each form not completed correctly. There has never been a fine for only $216 so plan on much higher fine and remember it is a fine for each record that is not correctly filled out even if the employee is absolutely authorized to work in the US.
Now is the time to do an audit of all your I-9 forms and get a baseline for your compliance. If you have issues, develop a compliance plan and start the correct process going forward. Even if you complete your form outside the deadline, it is better if you have completed the form than if you have no form.
If you do not have an eVerify account, you should be setting one up today. While this is not a requirement for every employee at the moment, that requirement is coming in the next couple of years. Start getting used to validating every new employee because there is no guarantee that you have not hired an employee with fake papers.