Changes to the I-9 Form

It’s important for employers to produce accurate and up-to-date I-9 forms on new hires. This form is used to verify the eligibility of new hires to work in the United States. Some long awaited revisions have taken place and as of May 2013, old I-9 forms will not be accepted. To help ensure your business stays in compliance, you will find helpful tips and answers to common questions about the I-9 updates below.

Form I-9 Correction Notice Published*

On March 8, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the recently revised Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9. USCIS announced in the DATES section of the notice that employers can no longer use prior versions of Form I-9 effective May 7, 2013. USCIS incorrectly described the effective date as being after May 7, 2013.

On April 9, 2013, USCIS published a correction notice in the Federal Register. This notice corrects the error and clarifies that employers may no longer use prior versions of the Form I-9 effective May 7, 2013.

*Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website

Here are answers to a few common questions about the I-9 updates.

1. Employers do not have to refile I-9s for current employees. The one exception to this are foreign employees who only have temporary authorization to work in the U.S.. You will need to re-verify their eligibility using the new form.

2. You can acess the new form by visiting the USCIS website.  To order USCIS forms, employers can also call 1-800-870-3676 or visit www.uscis.gov/I-9Central

 

3. There are serious fines for not complying with USCIS’s directives. Employers who fail to verify their staff can face fines of up to $1100 per employee.

 

Check out this news brief from Breazale, Sachse, and Wilson, LLC law firm for a more in-depth look at the I-9 changes.

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Improving Your Internship Program

Based on all the buzz around OEN’s upcoming Internship Workshop, it seems like companies are reevaluating the value and purpose of internships. Young business owners who have gone on to bury unsatisfactory internships under a mountain of career achievements seem determined not to relegate stereotypically negative interning experiences to junior and senior college students a few years behind them. This increased awareness of the need to develop more meaningful intern programs is a good start, but companies need to make sure that their good intentions translate to action. Here are a few of our suggestions. 

Pay your interns. Companies are able to choose interns from a large, enthusiastic pool of students, graduates, and young professionals trying out a new career. But interns are not free labor, and confusing the two can mean legal trouble for your business. If your company is benefiting from the work your interns are producing, your interns should be receiving a paycheck according to these U.S. Department of Labor criteria. By agreeing to pay interns, you’re putting additional pressure on them to prove their worth, and these days so few young people have the luxury of accepting an unpaid internship, regardless of how great the opportunity is.

Teach your interns. Give interns a quick lesson in your company architecture and objectives. Providing this education to them at the beginning of the internship provides them with a greater understanding of how your company functions, what their place is in the company, and how their work contributes to the business. You’re going to receive completed work that is more aligned to your specific business needs if your interns know exactly what they need to do to get the job done.

Have specific projects for your interns. Even the most self-starting intern is going to be frustrated with the task of having to invent their own productive workday schedule. Lacking the business foresight of a veteran employee, when left to their own devices interns may unintentionally gravitate towards work that is unnecessary. Prevent this by having specific, well-defined tasks laid out for your interns to do. Once they’ve knocked a few of these projects out of the park, you can slowly begin to introduce work that requires a higher level of independent thinking.

Include your interns. Keeping interns secluded or treating them like second-class citizens within your company hurts everyone. Being in the dark about basic business functions or unaware of the key conversations going on in your company will inhibit the depth of their insights and likely detract from the relevance of their projects. When your interns speak up at meetings, be receptive to their ideas. They’re approaching the opportunity as a learning experience, and living up to their expectations in that regard will keep them motivated to live up to yours. Additionally, having a fully-integrated intern gives you a valuable opportunity to learn about how your company is perceived by viewing it through an intelligent, fresh pair of young eyes.

Be flexible. Giving your interns some flexibility is important, especially if you’re hiring students. Unless the internship is an explicitly intensive, full-time gig, the chance that your intern is working a second job, or taking classes on the side are pretty high. Be open to the idea of partial telecommuting or only coming into the office for special meetings, and be understanding when faced with scheduling conflicts or the rare double-booking.

Give feedback, get feedback. Strong, silent type employers can be confusing and frustrating to interns. Providing regular, targeted feedback allows interns to adjust their performance and will result in better, more valuable work. Inversely, be sure your door is always open for interns with inquiries or suggestions about their experience interning with your company.

What golden rules do you follow when employing interns? What benefits, if any, did employing interns have on your company? Answer these questions, or submit other intern-related thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Additional Reading:

Understanding the I-9: the Employment Eligibility Verification Form

Basics

In 1986, the federal government passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which required employers to verify that employees were able to provide documents proving their legal authorization to work in the United States. The Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) is the official document provided for this purpose.Employees must fill out an I-9 no later than the time of hire. Employers are responsible for making sure their new hire fills out Section 1 completely, and on time.Employees must retain an I-9 for all current employees, and all former employees for three years after the employee is hired or one year after the termination of that employee, whichever date is later. I-9s must be stored separately from personal information files. 

I-9s are NOT required for unpaid volunteers or contractors, but employers may still be penalized if they contract work to a contractor that employs unauthorized workers.

I-9 Form

I-9s are broken into 3 sections:

  • Employee Information and Verification – filled out by all new employees hired after November 6, 1986. Asks a new employee to fill out basic information (name, address, D.O.B, &c). New employees do not have to provide their SSN unless they’re using the USCIS Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification Perogram (E-Verify). For more information on E-Verify, click here.
  • Employer Review and Verification – employees are required to present employer with either ONE document that establishes both identity and employment authorization (such as a U.S. Passport or a Permanent Resident Card) or both a document that establishes identity and a document that establishes employment authorization (state drivers license AND social security card, or school ID card with photo AND U.S. Citizen ID card, for example). The employer records the details of these documents and signs the I-9, verifying that they are legitimate. Page 5 of the I-9 form lists all acceptable forms of identification.
  • Updating and Verification – employers fill this section out if
    • employee changes their name
    • employee is rehired within three years of initial hire date
    • employee’s work authorization is approaching expiration

Employers are required to pair the I-9 with the form instructions – and with good reason. The instructions offer specific information that’s helpful to employers and their new hires alike.

Penalties

Employers can incur penalties for the following Form I-9 related offenses:

  • Improperly kept I-9s (ex. found with personal information, not readily accessible, &c.) – fine up to $110 per missing document, and $1,100 per form – and that’s even if the employee is authorized to work in the US.
  • Hiring an unauthorized worker – fine from $250 – $5,500 per worker and possible 1 year bar from federal government contracts (example?)
  • Knowingly committing or participating in document fraud – first offense fine from $375 – $3, 200 per document, subsequent offense fine from $3,200 – $6,500 per document

Additional unfair immigration-related employment penalties may result from requesting more documentation than is required on the I-9, so be careful not to accidentally incur a penalty attempting to be thorough.

Additional Resources

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Website – When in doubt, go straight to the source. The USCIS website is full of helpful information for employers (most notably this PDF ‘Handbook for Employers: Instructions for Completing Form I-9‘). Simply search ‘I-9’ from their homepage to access a list of resources offered through their website.
  • Intuit’s Form I-9 Tip SheetAnother handy PDF with fast facts, checklists, and – especially handy – I-9 do’s and don’ts

Reminder

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only, it is not to be used as legal advice…” Click here to read the rest of our blog disclaimer.

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