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January 22, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) issued a new version of the Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification (“Form I-9”). The updated Form I-9, dated November 14, 2016 with an expiration date of August 31, 2019, should be used for all newly hired employees and those individuals who require re-verification on and after January 22, 2017. All previous versions of the Form I-9 are no longer valid after this date. To ensure compliance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, franchise business owners should be aware of the Form I-9 completion and retention requirements and ensure hiring managers obtain the same knowledge.
The new Form I-9 has been updated in the following ways:
- “Other names used” now states “other last names used” and updated numbering of the immigration status in Section 1;
- New hires must specifically state whether a preparer or translator was used, and if multiple preparers or translators are used, a supplemental sheet is available;
- Section 3, containing the reverification section, is now on page 3 of the document, making the Form I-9, a total of three, instead of two, pages;
- The instructions, previously the first six pages of the nine-page form, are now a separate fifteen page document; and
- The electronic fillable version may be completed online and uses answers entered in certain fields to automatically complete other fields. The electronic version of the document, unless the franchise uses an electronic onboarding system allowing for an electronic signature, does require the users to print and physically sign the Form I-9.
The timeframe of completion of the Form I-9 and retention requirements has not changed. Section 1 must be completed and signed no later than the first day of employment, but not before the acceptance of a job offer. Additionally, Section 2 must be completed and signed by the employer or an authorized representative within three business days of the first day of employment. The Form I-9 must be retained for three years after the date of hire or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later.
Failing to ensure the proper completion of the Form I-9 may have a significant financial impact on franchise business owners. Under section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act, employers may be subject to civil fines and criminal penalties. Civil fines range from $216.00 to $2,156.00 per form for failing to comply with the employment verification requirements. Business owners should review their current onboarding packet to ensure the use of the correct Form I-9. Additionally, utilizing an experienced human resource professional to conduct regular Form I-9 audits can minimize the liabilities associated with the improper completion of the Form I-9. For more information, business owners may download the USCIS Employer Handbook, updated on January 22, 2017, for guidance on completing the Form I-9. The Handbook is located at https://www.uscis.gov/i-9.
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