With the dawn of the new year, there have been several developments on the I-9 employment eligibility verification front. A new form has been released, and enforcement actions against companies that hire undocumented people continue.
It’s time to start using the new Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The old form will no longer be accepted after April 30, 2020. Employers do not need to re-do the Form I-9 for existing employees.
There are no major changes to the form. Among other things, the new form adds Eswatini and North Macedonia to the Country of Issuance field in Section 1 and the foreign passport issuing authority field in Section 2; clarifies who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer; updates USCIS website addresses; clarifies acceptable documents; updates the process for requesting the paper I-9; and updates the Department of Homeland Security Privacy Notice.
The new version has a revision date of 10/21/2019 and expires 10/31/2022.
New Audits and Inspections
U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) is after companies that hire undocumented workers. Yet the Trump administration is closing the door to unskilled workers and refugees. This will choke U.S. industry.
With respect to ICE enforcement actions, it is important to follow all the rules and make sure documentation is complete, without asking employees for more or different documents than required or discriminating on the basis of national origin. Focus on avoiding the most serious types of errors. Reportedly, one typical pattern leading to indictments and other enforcement activities is that ICE audits a company’s I-9 forms and issues a Notice of Suspect Documents; the company tells ICE that those employees have been fired; but then the workers are rehired under different circumstances, such as through a staffing company.
This scenario unfolded recently with Speed Fab-Crete Corp., a Texas-based builder, which recently entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and will forfeit $3 million. In another case, a small Mexican restaurant was ordered to pay a $46,922.40 fine for I-9 paperwork violations for 24 employees (later reduced by a court to $34,872), even though there was no genuine issue of material fact. In the latter case, the employer did not complete attestations on any of the I-9s, among other violations ICE deemed “serious,” and the employer raised the inability to pay the fine but provided no evidence of financial hardship. On the other hand, the court did note that ICE had not proved bad faith on the part of the employer.
Using staffing companies to cover for hiring undocumented workers is not smart. But the Trump administration and Congress need to do their jobs and reform the immigration system to allow in skilled and unskilled workers to help the United States grow.
WR is a world leader in global mobility using WRapid, the firm’s immigration management system Powered by Salesforce, to facilitate the movement of talent worldwide.