New I-9 Form Requirement for Employers Costly If Unnoticed

New I-9 Form Requirement for Employers Costly If UnnoticedMargaret W. Wong, Esq.
In May 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began requiring businesses to use a new, updated version of Form I-9 for all new employees. The purpose of the I-9 is to verify employee identity and employment authorization.
The two-page form only seems relatively simple; a mistake or missing information can be costly for businesses, resulting in fees up to $1100. Even harsher penalties apply to employers who participate in document fraud or who knowingly employ unauthorized workers, up to $6,500 and $16,000, respectively. In recent years, enforcement for even the minor infractions has increased exponentially, making preparing the I-9 properly a matter of utmost importance for all businesses, but especially for smaller ones for whom such fines would be a greater burden.
Companies of all sizes struggle with I-9 compliance, and mistakes are extremely common, resulting in hundreds to thousands of dollars spent paying fines if a government audit occurs. It is important to enlist the help of an immigration attorney to conduct preemptive I-9 compliance audits in order to be prepared for a potential future audit by the government and avoid costly and avoidable fines. Larger companies often have one or multiple individuals on staff who are specifically tasked with making sure such forms are up to date and all requirements are met; some outsource the work. Unfortunately, many small businesses may not even be aware of the updated I-9 form. It is important to check USCIS forms and requirements online regularly for updates, and consult with an immigration attorney from time to time if possible, to prevent errors.