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


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.


SlideCast Seminar: Independent Contractors and 1099s

Earlier this month, Senators introduced the Payroll Fraud Prevention Act (S. 770). This bill seeks to characterize misclassification of employees as a form of payroll fraud. If passed, the bill would expose businesses who misclassify “employees” as “non-employees” (such as independent contractors) to fines of up to $5,000 per worker per violation of the law. (Click here for a more extensive write-up about the bill – link opens in a new tab).

With this bill on the Senate floor, there’s no better time than the present to brush up on your understanding of employer/independent contractor relationships. We’ve put together a brief SlideCast that covers the basics of independent contractor relationships and filing 1099 forms.

Was this SlideCast helpful to you? If so, we hope you’ll pass it on. If not, please leave a comment letting us know how we can provide more helpful and relevant information about payroll and HR.

Understanding the I-9: the Employment Eligibility Verification Form


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.


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


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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