January 2nd, 2018 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

Are You Sure You’re Compliant with the Form I-9 Requirements?

As a new year starts, it is critical to make sure that you are following the correct steps for verifying employment work eligibility. Sterling recently hosted the “Form I-9: Are You Sure You’re Compliant?” webinar. David Basham Subject Matter Expert (SME) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Department of Homeland Security walked attendees through the updates to the Form I-9 in the past year, how to avoid common mistakes and shared the requirements for form storage and retention.

What is Form I-9?

Form I-9 is used to establish both identity and employment authorization for individuals (citizens and non-citizens) hired for employment in the United States. All employers must accurately complete and retain Form I-9, the employment eligibility verification form, for every person hired for employment on or after November 6, 1986, in the United States. The form can be completed electronically or on paper.

2017 Updates to Form I-9

The USCIS made two updates to the Form I-9 in 2017. The major updates occurred with the January 22m 2917 update with supplemental changes in July 2017.

In the January Form I-9 update, USCIS introduced their fillable version of the form, which is equipped with additional features such as drop-down lists and calendars, fields validations and field instructions to guide employees and employers when completing the document on a computer. When the fillable version of Form I-9 is used, the employer is still required to print the form to complete wet signatures. The USCIS has also introduced a “Smart Form” version for employers who complete the form on paper. The “Smart Form” includes new assistance tools and data validation to prevent common form errors, such as missing required fields and some data population for common issuing authorities in Section 2. The major updates included the following:

  • Citizenship status for ‘alien authorized to work’ now requires the employee to provide one of three document numbers – their Alien Registration Number/USCIS Number, Form I-94 Admission Number, or Foreign Passport with Country of Issuance.
  • “N/A” must be included in any form fields that are left blank.
  • New question and checkboxes require employees to identify whether a preparer and/or translator (P/T) was used. If two or more P/Ts were used, employees must complete the “Form I-9 Supplement, Section 1 Preparer and/or Translator Certification”, which provides additional certification areas for the individuals assisting with Section 1 completion.
  • New citizenship/immigration status field – a numeric value must be entered that corresponds to the employee’s citizenship status from Section 1.
    • A citizen of the United States = 1
    • Noncitizen national of the United States = 2
    • A lawful permanent resident = 3
    • An alien authorized to work = 4
  • A new optional box entitled “Additional Information” to notate any information related to form, such as employment authorization, E-verify case numbers or employee termination dates.
  • Guidance on completing section 3 on reverification and rehires.
  • The Form I-9 instructions have been expanded to 15 pages.

The latest version of Form I-9, v. 07/17/17 N, will expire on August 31, 2019. All U.S. employers should have transitioned to the updated version of form by September 17, 2017. The updated and most recent form can be downloaded directly from I-9 Central. The biggest change to the form took place under Section 2:

  • The Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) has been added to List C. Employers completing the form on a computer will be able to select Form FS-240 from the drop-down menus available in List C of Sections 2 and 3. E-Verify users will also be able to select Form FS-240 when creating a case for an employee who has presented this document for Form I-9.
  • All of the certifications of report of birth issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350, and Form FS-240) have been combined into selection C #2 in List

Form I-9 Tips

It is critical to follow the instructions for filling out Form I-9 completely and on-time to be compliant with USCIS regulations. Employees may delegate the authority to complete the form to a responsible agent, however, the employee will retain liability for any errors. This would apply for all employees, but especially for those who work remotely and are not at the office to finalize the validation of the form. Remote workers have to have a level of trust with those who will verify the information for Section 2 of the Form.

Form reminders:

  • New employees must provide ONE document from List A or ONE document from List B and ONE from List C
  • All employees must complete Section 1 no later than the first business day of employment for pay.
  • In Section 1, employees must check the first box if they DON’T use a preparer or translator (P/T) to fill out the form. If the first box is checked, no entries can be made in the fields as the checkbox is equivalent to stating N/A.
  • If the employee uses a P/T, the P/T must check the second box in this section, then choose from the drop-down menu the number of preparers and translators.
  • Section 2 of the I-9 must be completed by the employer no later than three business days after the employee begins work for pay.
  • The employer must examine original documents provided by the employer and make sure they are not expired.
  • Employers MUST reverify an employee using Section 3 if his or her temporary employment authorization has expired.
  • Employers MAY use Section 3 if they rehire the employee within three years of the date of initial execution of the Form. The USCIS recommends completing a new Form I-9 for rehires.
  • Form I-9 must be retained for: 3 YEARS AFTER the date you hire an employee or 1 YEAR AFTER the date employment terminates, whichever is later.

Correcting Form I-9 Mistakes

If an employer discovers a mistake on the form, they have two options: to correct the existing form OR prepare a new Form I-9. If you choose to correct the existing form, line out the incorrect portions, enter the correct information and initial and date the correction. If you opt to fill out a new form, remember to retain the old form. Attach a short memo to both the new and old Form I-9s stating the reason for the action. If you discover you are missing the Form I-9 for an employee, provide the employee with a form, complete it as soon as possible and DO NOT backdate the form.

Benefits of an Integrated Form I-9/E-Verify Solution

Sterling offers an electronic Form I-9/E-Verify solution allowing for streamlined I-9 and E-Verify management and storage services for both onsite and offsite hiring. The solution remembers the rules, so an HR professionals or company executives don’t have to. The platform is an easy-to-use, self-service paperless solution that supports the updated Form I-9. It works with a simple interface which guides the user throughout each step of the form completion process and has a seamless, compliant integration with E-Verify. The tool sends reminders for expiring work authorizations, employees awaiting Social Security numbers and receipts that require updating. Most importantly, the solution is mobile-enabled, secure and promotes compliance with USCIS regulations. Stay tuned for information about a new Sterling I-9 Verifier Network solution connecting clients with a nationwide network of authorized representatives.

When it comes to your Form needs Sterling is here to help. To find out best practices that still apply for Form I-9, you can listen to the OnDemand version of the “Form I-9: Are You Sure You’re Compliant” webinar, at any time.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.