Form I-9: A Compliance Overview for Every U.S. Worker

Industry:HR Compliance       Added By:Admin       Posted On:Oct. 3, 2019


Form I-9 was introduced as a part of mandatory compliance for the employers working in the U.S. The form eases out the verification process for the employers and gives them the rightful picture and the background of the employees, if they stand the eligibility criteria to work in the U.S., legally. It directly compares the information filled in the form to the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The other agenda that the Form focuses on is to make sure that the U.S. citizens can remain aloof from the undocumented immigrants when it comes to employment eligibility verification of the employees working in the country.

Why was Form I-9 introduced?

In the 1980s, roughly about 3 million undocumented immigrants were legalized with the enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act 1986. The Act was instigated to put off the propagating cases of undocumented immigrants from working in the U.S. As per an interim rule, the number of forms that were required by the employees to fill, to determine an employee's eligibility criteria to work, has come down to 14 from 29. Indulging in perjury can cost the employers huge penalties for registering false information against the regulatory norms established in compliance with Form I-9. This can also include falsely claiming that an employee is eligible to work in the U.S. on behalf of the scanned photocopies than the original documents.

The pre-requisites for filling the Form I-9

The Form I-9 requirements demand certain documents that are considered mandatory to be submitted while filling the form. The documents enlist details that prove whether the new hire is eligible to work legally in the U.S. The newly employed member of the organization is required to submit the documents within 3 days from the date of joining to present the identity and work authorization. The employer must ensure that the Form I-9 Lists of Acceptable Documents (List A, List B, and List C) are available in a clear and readable form to all the employees who are on the task of completing the Form. The employee can choose which unexpired document(s) she should present as per the form requirement and demand. You can either present a document from List A or a combination of a document from List B and a document for List C. 

The Lists of Acceptable Documents: What are they?

There are documents in List A that show both identity and work authorization and must be presented together to call it a List A document. List B documents validate the identity alone, while List C documents can only be presented to show the work authorization. If you present the acceptable documents enlisted in List A, neither should you present nor provide, documents from List B and List C and vice-versa. If you fail to provide or present the documents from any of the above-mentioned lists, you can provide an acceptable receipt.

The setbacks for not complying with Form I-9

With the proper I-9 documenting, it becomes easy for every organization to have a thorough check about their employees' legal aspects during auditing and other higher legal inspection processes. However, there have been several cases where the employers have not complied with the Form I-9 and have faced severe charges by the government during the inspection/auditing process. When there exist deficiencies in an inspection process by the U.S. government, the employers can be exposed to penalties such as civil fines, criminal charges on violating the pattern, or practice for the form and court orders following to hire the individual(s) being discriminated against or hire them. 

Penalties and other technical violations

Deliberately hiring people without complying with Form or other unauthorized means can cost fines ranging from $375 to $16,000 per employee. These fines also depend on the type of fraud being committed. Falsely claiming to have been complied with the Form I-9 can cause a whopping $227,000 as the penalty amount. Technical violations to the Form, however, does not receive a penalty on an immediate basis. The employers are given a period of a week to 10 business days to correct the technical violation before getting imposed with heavy penalty charges. Technical violation can be the failure of the employee to date the form at the time employment begins failure to complete the employer sections within 3 days of the employee date of joining, failure to date the rehiring of an employee in the rehiring form, failure to indicate that the age of the employee is less than 18 years.

New updates for the Form in the year 2020

The beginning of the year saw new changes being implemented in the Form I-9. As of 31st January 2020, the department of USCIS has announced a new version of the Form, which was approved by the Office of Management and Budget on October 21st, 2019, that has minor changes in the instructions. The employers must use the updated form starting January 31st, 2020. The U.S. Government suggests the employers that they may continue to use the prior version of the form until April 30, 2020, post which, they must adopt the new version of the form having 10/21/2019 as the version date. This date can be found in the lower-left corner of the form. 

Other notable changes can be found in section 1 and section 2 (when selecting a foreign passport) of the form, which comprises information on Country of Issuance field and Issuing Authority field, respectively. The online version of the form sees modification in Section 2 with revised changes that adds Eswatini and Macedonia, North per those countries’ recent name changes.

The major updates in the instruction part claim to provide more clarification on the alternate entity who acts as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer, and also on the list of acceptable documents as the prerequisites for the form. Other minor revisions include updates in the process for requesting paper Forms I-9 and DHS privacy notice.


While the veracity of online Form I-9 can be seen on the USCIS and other government websites, it remains the choice of the employee or employer to fill all or a few sections, as an electronic form I-9 or in the paper mode. It can also be the combination of both, paper and the electronic mode. For more compliance on the Form I-9, take a look at our webinar and chronicles.