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Written By: Charles Appleby, Esq.

Collins and Lacy, PC

Columbia, South Carolina

As you may remember from prior immigration articles, employers are required to complete a Form I-9 to verify the identity and employment authorization of each employee hired in the United States. Businesses are required to keep the form for as long as an individual works for the company and for the required amount of time after termination, either three years after the date of hire or one year after the date employment ended, whichever is later.  If a business fails to properly complete and retain Form I-9s, it is subject to civil fines of up to $1,100 per form and, in some cases, criminal penalties.  Remember, employers do not need to complete the new Form I-9 for current employees for whom there is already a properly completed Form I-9 on file, just new employees.

The revised Form I-9 the USCIS released on March 8, 2013 makes several improvements designed to minimize errors in form completion. The key revisions to Form I-9 include:

  • Adding data fields, including the employee’s foreign passport information (if applicable) and telephone and e-mail addresses.
  • Improving the form’s instructions to more clearly indicate what is required of the employee and employer in each section.
  • Changing the layout of the form, and expanding the size from one to two pages (not including the form instructions and the List of Acceptable Documents).

The USCIS has also published a Handbook for Employers to provide additional guidance.

The USCIS recognized that modifications to electronic systems may be particularly necessary for employers using electronic Forms I-9 so the agency provided 60 days to make necessary changes.  Therefore, employers may continue to use the previously accepted Form I-9 until May 7, 2013 but may only use the new edition Form I-9 after May 7, 2013.

To make certain that no errors occur, employers should begin using the new I-9 as soon as possible so that they do not run the risk of using an old form after the May 7 deadline.  To order USCIS forms, employers can call a toll-free number (1-800-870-3676) or visit USCIS’s I-9 Central web page at

Practical Tips:

  • Ensure you and your team understands the requirements for each section of the new form.
  • Ensure your team has a dedicated individual or individuals to spearhead the transition to the new form.
  • Partner with your electronic I-9 software developers to ensure a smooth implementation of the new form within the 60-day timeline.
  • Start using the new form as soon as possible and do not use the old form after May 7, 2013.

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