HR corner: Are you keeping up with the IRS Form I-9 changes?

September 13, 2017
| United States

Leann Hoene, Senior HR Consultant, HR Partner

The IRS continues to change Form I-9, and it’s time to retire the old version from November 2016. This latest update, along with increased audits and fines, brings to mind Ben Franklin’s saying “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” In other words, this is a change you cannot afford to put off. In the last two years, a company was fined more than $600,000 for failure to complete its I-9 forms correctly.

Make sure you are using the correct form prior to submission. As of September 18 this year, the only form that will be acceptable is the July 17, 2017 form. Check your forms now and begin training any staff that completes Section 2 to ensure compliance.

Here are proposed U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) changes to the instructions of the I-9 Form:

  • Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices has been changed to Immigrant and Employee Rights Section
  • The wording “the end of” was removed from the phrase “the first day of employment”

Most changes were made to the list of acceptable Documents:

  • The Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) was added to List C.
  • All the certifications of report of birth issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350, and Form FS-240) were combined into selection C #2.
  • All List C documents were renumbered, except the Social Security card.
While these are minor changes, awareness is critical to ensure compliance, and will keep you from facing fines if audited. USCIS lists these common errors that you should note:

Employee does not:

  • Enter name, other last names used (such as maiden name), address or date of birth
  • Sign nor date the attestation
  • Complete Section 1 by the first day of employment/date of hire
  • Check appropriate boxes (along with Preparer)
  • Translators do not complete their information correctly

Employer does not:

  • Enter the employee’s information fully in Section 2 and/or 3
  • Enter acceptable List A document or acceptable List B and List C documents on the form
  • Enter the document title, issuing authority, number(s) or expiration date for the documentation presented
  • Enter its business title, name or address
  • Enter the date employment began (date of hire)
  • Sign, date or enter his or her information, along with that of the employer’s authorized representative
  • Complete Section 2 by the third business day after the date the employee is hired
  • Enter the date of rehire, if applicable
  • Enter the employee’s new name, if applicable
  • Complete Section 3 until after the employee’s work authorization has expired.

What to expect from an inspection

Several government entities have the right to inspect your I-9 forms. You could receive notice of inspection from the Department of Labor, the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice. More auditing agencies means an increase in audits. An inspection is initiated by a Notice of Inspection (NOI). Delivered in person or by mail, the NOI gives you with three days to prepare. The NOI will specify what is to be inspected. Along with your I-9s, they may want to inspect your payroll (as much as three years prior).

What to do now

Take advantage of this time by getting your documents in order. If you store your I-9 forms electronically, you should print and review them. Consider doing a self-audit if you have not done one in last few years to minimize your risk.

Here is a great resource on how to correct mistakes when you find them: To learn more about storage and retention or the fines that can be imposed (which can range from $110 to $16,000 each violation), see this earlier HR Focus article: Where is the employment eligibility verification Form I-9.