The Changes to the I-9 Form
Due to Covid-19, many employers enjoyed the temporary flexibility of remotely checking I-9 forms to satisfy the federal requirement of physically examining I-9 forms. With the end of this flexibility, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced in July 2023 notable changes to the I-9 verification process. The prior version of the I-9 Form continues to be effective until October 31, 2023, but starting November 1, 2023, only the updated I-9 Form will be accepted. However, employers can begin using the updated version as of August 1, 2023.
DHS has made some significant changes to the I-9 form. Some of the most important include:
- A reduction of section 1 and 2;
- A separate, standalone Supplement A for the Section 1 Preparer/Translator Certification area to be provided to employees on a for-need basis;
- A revision of the lists of acceptable documents to include links on information of employment authorization documents; and most importantly,
- An additional box that eligible employees must check if the employee’s I-9 form documentation was examined under a DHS-authorized alternative procedure rather than the typical physical examination of the documents.
Remote and Alternative Verification Processes of I-9 Forms
As a result of changes in work environment from Covid-19, the shift from in-person to a remote or hybrid work setting has led the DHS to provide remote procedures to employers to meet the federal standard for completion of I-9 Form. Currently, the remote verification option is only available to employers who have already been participating in the E-Verify system.
Employers who are registered in E-Verify should first examine clear and legible copies of the employee’s I-9 documentation (front and back if the document is two-sided) within three business days of the employee’s start date. The employer must then conduct a live video interaction with the employee, who presents the original documents transmitted to the employer so the employer can ensure that the documents are genuine. The employer should also check the appropriate box on the Form I-9 indicating that this alternative process was used. Once this multi-step procedure is done, the I-9 remote verification process is complete.
Employers who do not follow the remote process above and who are not currently enrolled in E-Verify must still perform the standard in-person physical inspection of the required documents as of August 30, 2023.
I-9 Form Violations
Although the I-9 form seems simple, there are opportunities for errors which can result in hefty fines and/or penalties. Improper completion of the I-9 form can result in a monetary penalty of up to $250, with an increase of up to $3,000 for repeated violations. The fine is even more substantial for knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized workers, with the fine being $11,000 per violation. Hence, it is crucial that employers are meticulous in completing the form to ensure that all sections are filled in completely and accurately in order to avoid such violations.