U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services last week issued a reminder to business owners, including restaurant operators, that the revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, has gone into effect for all U.S. employers.
Employers may no longer use previous versions of the Form I-9.
All employers must complete and retain an I-9 form for each individual they hire, including citizens and noncitizens. The purpose of the form is to help business owners ensure that the person they hire is eligible to work in the United States.
Employers must keep the form either for three years after the date of hire or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later.
Penalties for knowingly hiring or continuing to employ someone not legally eligible to work in the United States can result in penalties as high as $16,000 for a third offense, or even imprisonment in some cases. Paperwork violations, where an employer fails to complete or maintain I-9 forms for employees, can carry fines as high as $1,100 whether or not the employee was eligible to work in the United States.
The new form includes a revised list of documents acceptable for I-9 forms. According to the USCIS, the changes were implemented in order to improve the security and effectiveness of the I-9 process.
The revised list specifies that expired documents are no longer acceptable forms of identification. Allowing for expired documents makes it more difficult for employers to verify an employee's identity and employment authorization, according to USCIS officials.
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USCIS also updated the "Handbook for Employers – Instructions for Completing Form I-9" to reflect the requirements of the revised form.
The new I-9 forms are available for download at USCIS.gov. Employers without computer access can order the forms by calling 1-800-870-3676.
Other USCIS forms and information on immigration laws, regulations and procedures also can be requested by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.