Small businesses must comply. There is no exception.
A new version of the Form I-9 has been issued and businesses must use it on or before September 18, 2017. Published by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on July 17, 2017, the new I-9 form has a revision date (shown on the bottom of the form) of 07/17/17.
The form, used by employers to verify employment eligibility, should be completed for all active employees hired after November 6, 1986, and retained for former employees for the longer of one year from termination or three years from hire.
There is no small-business exception for the Form I-9. Although an independent contractor does not need to complete a Form I-9, all employers must complete and retain Forms I-9 for every person they hire for employment, which includes:
- The owner of a business if the owner is employed by the business and was hired as employee after November 6, 1986; and
- An owner hired by a partnership.
Changes on the form
The new I-9 has made very small changes to the form’s instructions and the list of acceptable documents. The revisions slightly modify USCIS’s List of Acceptable Documents and specifically update List C to reflect the most current version of the certification or report of birth issued by the U.S. State Department.
Switch to new form, now
Although the changes might be imperceptible, employers still need to switch to the form with the revision date of 07/17/17. Technically, employers can continue to use the previous Form I-9 through September 17, but immigration experts recommend that employers immediately download and start using the new form and recycle any blank November 2016 or older versions.
Failure to comply by the September 18, 2017, deadline can result in significant fines. The U.S. Department of Justice announced increases in fines for Form I-9 violations last year, which range from $216 to $2,126 per form.
Businesses with questions can contact the NFIB Small Business Legal Center at (800) NFIB-NOW or visit https://www.uscis.gov/i-9.