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5 Changes to Form I-9 That All Employers Need to Know

Contributor: Judy Liang, aPHR

October 13th, 2023 | 4 min. read

By Tony Calavitta

With the long-anticipated updates to Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification in effect as of August 1st, 2023, riddle me this:

How familiar are you with the new Form I-9 requirements? Are you 100% confident that your current process will keep you compliant with them?

If your first reaction to these questions was less than assuring, the 375% increase in I-9 audit inspections over the past 2 years might sound scary. But, fear not – this article will provide you with all the information you need to avoid facing costly I-9 violations.

In this article, we will discuss what Form I-9 is and why it is critical for compliance. By reading it, you’ll be equipped with a detailed breakdown of all the major Form I-9 changes to help keep you compliant in 2023 and beyond.

What is Form I-9?

Before we dive into the updates, let's talk about what Form I-9 is:

Form I-9, also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification Form, is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) document that employers use to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States.

Purpose – Why use Form I-9?

As part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Form I-9 is used to prevent employers from knowingly hiring employees who are not authorized to work in the U.S.

And, aside from simply being federally required, there are severe penalties for failing to comply with I-9 regulations. With this in mind, I-9 is not just a formality – it's a critical component for business compliance.

Process – How to use Form I-9?

Both employees and employers – or authorized representatives of the employers – must complete the form. First, the employee has to provide acceptable documents to prove their identity and employment authorization. Then, the employer has to examine the provided documents and record relevant information on Form I-9.

Easy enough, right?

Penalties – What are considered Form I-9 violations? How much do they cost?

Believe it or not, penalties for I-9 violations hit an all-time high in 2019, amounting to over $14 million in fines. So, again, Form I-9 is not just a formality – it’s a critical component for business compliance.

That being said, making I-9 compliance mistakes or omissions is extremely costly, increasingly regulated, and strictly enforced.

Here's what you need to know about the penalties:

  • Paperwork Violations
    For the first offense, penalties range from $272 to $2,701 for each I-9 form that has substantive violations or uncorrected technical errors.

  • Unauthorized Employment
    If you're found employing unauthorized workers intentionally, the penalties for the first offense range from $676 to $5,404 for each unauthorized individual.

  • Repeated Offenses
    For second and subsequent offenses the fines climb higher and higher, ranging from $5,404 to $27,108 (Note: "subsequent offenses" can include violations that occurred in the distant past).

So, what's the takeaway?

It is not only required to make sure your I-9 forms are accurate and up-to-date, but also it’ll save you from facing unnecessary losses.

5 Form I-9 updates that every employer needs to know

Now that you understand the importance of Form I-9 compliance, let’s discuss the major Form I-9 changes you need to know you need to avoid facing costly I-9 violations.

1. The design has been simplified

The new edition of Form I-9, released on August 1, 2023, is designed to be more user-friendly. It combines Sections 1 and 2 into a single-sided sheet, making the form more manageable and easier to complete.

2. The supplements for specific sections have been separated

This revision makes Section 1 Preparer/Translator Certification and Section 3 Reverification and Rehire separate standalone supplements. Employers can now print these supplements and provide them only when necessary, allowing for greater flexibility and easier future updates.

3. The lengthy instructions have been simplified

The instructions for completing Form I-9 have been shortened from 15 pages to 8 pages, a welcomed change for anyone who's ever felt overwhelmed by the lengthy instructions in the past. Additional guidance on the Lists of Acceptable Documents will be provided, to make it easier for employers and employees alike to understand the process.

4. A new checkbox for remote documentation examination has been added.

With this new checkbox feature, employers have the freedom to examine documentation remotely under a DHS-authorized alternative procedure, providing more flexibility in the verification process.

5. There is an alternative procedure for E-Verify employers

As of August 1, 2023, employers enrolled in E-Verify can opt for an alternative procedure to verify employment eligibility. This procedure allows electronic verification and live video call interactions instead of the in-person physical examination requirement.

Qualifications for using the alternative procedure

To qualify for this alternative procedure, employers must be an E-Verify participant in good standing. In other words, you must be compliant with all E-Verify program requirements and continue to maintain that status.

Steps for using the alternative procedure

  1. Examine the submitted copies of documentation
    To maintain the integrity of the verification process, employers using the alternative procedure must ensure that the front and back of Form I-9 documents or acceptable receipts are genuine.

  2. Conduct a live video interaction
    Conducting a live video call with the employee to review documentation ensures its authenticity while also adding an extra layer of verification. In order to complete this step, the employee must submit a copy of their documents to the employer before the call and present the same documentation during it.

  3. Mark the electronic verification checkbox on Form I-9
    Using the corresponding checkbox to indicate that an alternative procedure was used for document verification, keeps records consistent and can be helpful in the case of audits.

  4. Retain the submitted copies of documentation
    To comply with the alternative procedure, employers must keep clear and legible copies of all examined documents (If documentation is two-sided, copies of both the front and back are required).

  5. Be Prepared for Audits
    In case of a Form I-9 audit, employers must have copies of all relevant identity and employment authorization documentation available and accessible.

Important Dates to Remember

Adapt your employment verification policies to align with these new Form I-9 changes and compliance will be easier than you think.

But don’t forget to mark your calendars with the following important dates to make sure that your Form I-9 is in line with updated regulatory dates:

  • August 1, 2023: New Form I-9 edition released
  • October 31, 2023: Last day to use the prior version of Form I-9
  • November 1, 2023: Mandatory use of the new Form I-9 edition

Need Help with Form I-9?

Okay, now that you’ve read this article, riddle me this:

How familiar are you with the new Form I-9 requirements? Are you 100% confident that your current process will keep you compliant with them?

By reading this article, you have all the information about the major Form I-9 changes to keep your policies compliant so these questions should now be a breeze.

But, don’t worry – If you still need help navigating Form I-9 compliance, our HR experts here at Combined are ready to assist you.


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This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.