It’s no secret that Donald Trump is fulfilling his signature campaign promise to address immigration reform. So far, most of the media attention has been on the U.S.-Mexico border wall and the travel/refugee ban. For employers, however, other issues require attention.
One major issue requiring employers’ attention is I-9 compliance. In an Executive Order issued on January 25, 2017, titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” President Trump directed all executive agencies to prioritize the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. Such enforcement will very likely include more frequent and significant audits and investigations of employers’ I-9 compliance.
A few days earlier, on January 21, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services began requiring employers to use a new version of the I-9 form for all new hires. Employers who fail to use the proper form can be subject to civil penalties exceeding $2,000 for every improper form used. Thus, hiring 10 employees with the expired I-9 form can trigger 10 separate penalties.
Here is a link to the new form and instructions for completing it: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9. Note that unlike prior versions, the instructions are now contained in a separate document and are more detailed.
Otherwise, the new form itself contains only a few minor changes (for example, permitting the use of a P.O. Box for an address). However, there is now an “electronic” version available that includes drop-down menus and informational pop-up boxes to facilitate correct completion. This version is not mandatory, so employers can still print and complete the I-9 by hand.
While the I-9 form has been around for a number of years, its requirements are technical and proper completion requires solid training. Particularly with the new administration’s heavy immigration focus, we strongly recommend that employers audit their I-9 processes, ensuring that all forms are properly completed and that all employees are authorized for employment in the U.S.
If you have any questions about I-9 compliance, please contact us.