by Laura Pokrzywa

It’s happened again. The Form I-9 has once again been updated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The new form was just released this week, on July 17. If you are feeling a bit of déjà vu, you are probably not alone. The ink is barely dry on the previous revision, which became the required form at the end of January this year!

According to the USCIS, employers can use this revised version or continue using Form I-9 with a revision date of 11/14/16 through Sept. 17. On Sept. 18, employers must use the revised form with a revision date of 07/17/17. In the meantime, the USCIS says employers should continue to follow existing storage and retention rules for all of their previously completed Forms I-9. Those rules will not change.

Changes to the form itself are not immediately noticeable. Look closely and you’ll see that the USCIS changed the name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, Immigrant and Employee Rights Section. They also removed “the end of” from the phrase “the first day of employment.”

The other revisions are found in the List of Acceptable Documents in List C. The USCIS added a form of ID (the Consular Report of Birth Abroad), combined all the certifications of report of birth issued by the Department of State into one section on the list, and renumbered all List C documents except the Social Security card.

They are also offering a new and improved Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9 (M-274).

Best to get familiar with the requirements and stay current on the form. Employers who violate the law may be subject to civil fines as much as $2126 per form for substantive and uncorrected technical I-9 mistakes (also known as “paperwork violations”), criminal penalties, debarment from government contracts, and a court order requiring an employer hire and pay back pay to individuals who have suffered discriminatory treatment.

The easiest and quickest way to verify the eligibility of new hires is using the internet-based system called E-Verify. It is free and required for federal contractors and all employers in certain states. With a completed Form I-9 and the new hire’s social security number, an employer can determine eligibility within seconds. This system does not replace the legal requirement to complete and retain those I-9 forms, but it is one more way to ensure legal compliance and avoid costly mistakes.

For more information about E-Verify, Form I-9, or for directions for renewing green cards or re-verifying an employee’s eligibility to work, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

Employers with questions about work authorization compliance, or any other HR issue, can contact one of our HR professionals by calling 877-864-3311.

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