Guest Post by Alka Bahal
So, as you savvy fashion brand owners or HR managers may know, all U.S. employers are required to complete a Form I-9 for every employee hired in order to verify that the individual is authorized for employment in the United States under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).
Earlier this month the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 for immediate use. This “new and improved” form replaces all other forms and should be used from now forward for all new hires and reverifications. If you haven’t been using the new form, don’t worry — the previous edition of the Form (with an OMB control number expiration date of August 31, 2012) is valid until May 7, 2013.
So, what new and great improvements has our government given us with the new Form I-9?
There are new data fields, a revised format that expands the form to two pages, and clearer instructions to both employees and employers, which hopefully will make the form more user-friendly.
The new Form I-9 and List of Acceptable Documents is available on USCIS’ website in English and in Spanish. (Note, however, that the Spanish version of the Form may only be executed by employer’s in Puerto Rico; Employers in the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories may use the Spanish version of the Form as a translation guide, only, but must complete the English version of the Form.)
USCIS has also updated its Handbook for Employers, Instructions for Completing Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form) (Form M-274), it’s companion instruction booklet for the I-9 process.
Why does this matter?
Employers must ensure completion of the correct version of form I-9 and maintain their I-9 records as mandated by Regulation. Form I-9 records must be available for inspection upon request by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, or the Department of Labor.
What happens if I use the wrong form after May 7, 2013?
In general, if an employer fails to ensure proper completion and retention of I-9 forms, you may face imposition of civil money penalties, and, in some cases, criminal penalties on the employer and/or its responsible personnel.
With respect to this new version of the Form I-9, employers who keep using the old version after May 7, 2013, may be subject to penalties for failure to do so.
So, what’s the best practice?
Start using the new edition of the form immediately.