Legal Information for Entrepreneurs

New I9 Forms

Are you aware that there are new I9 forms that you need to be using? If you don't use the new I9 form, you may be subject to penalties and fines.

As a small business employer, you are already familiar with I-9 forms.

New I9 Forms

But what you might not know is that the government has issued a new I-9 form, and if you aren't using it you could be subject fines and penalties.

I-9 forms are designed to provide documentation for the eligibility and authorization of workers hired by your company after November 6, 1986. The Department of Homeland Security requires these forms to be completed within the first three days of employment, and they must be kept on record for either three years or one year after termination of employment (whichever is longer).

The form itself is relatively simple and continues to follow the same structure as before. New employees provide some basic information and provide forms of identification from lists the form provides. Homeland security accepts more than twenty kinds of identification, but the most common ones continue to be passports, drivers; licenses, social security cards, and birth certificates.

When requesting an I-9 form from an employee, the employee should understand that it will not be used as to discriminate against them unless they are not authorized to work in the U.S. In other words, non-citizens need to be assured that completing an I-9 will not jeopardize their employment as long as they are truly eligible to work in the U.S. Likewise, employers cannot specify employees' forms of identification as long as they comply with the terms described in the form.

Although the differences between the old I-9 and its replacement are relatively minor, it's still important for employers to familiarize themselves with the new requirements. Here's a summary of changes you need to know about . . .

New Hires Only

Fortunately, Homeland Security is not requiring employers to obtain updated I-9's from their current employees. The new form is only required for employees that are hired on a go-forward basis. However, Homeland Security reserves the right to request an updated I-9 from any employee, even those who already have a completed I-9 on file.

Accepted Forms of Identification

The biggest changes involve the types of identification employees provide. The new form eliminates five forms of identification that used to be acceptable from List A. The eliminated forms of identification include:

  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561)
  • Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
  • Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151)
  • Unexpired Reentry Permit (Form I-327)
  • Unexpired Refugee Travel Document (Form I-571)

Social Security Numbers

Employees can continue to provide their Social Security card as an acceptable form of identification from List B. The difference is that they are no longer required to provide their Social Security number elsewhere on the form. There is an exemption for employers who use the E-Verify system. Employees who are hired by these companies must still provide their Social Security numbers so their employer can take advantage of the electronic verification process.

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We welcome your comments and questions on tax forms, HR forms, I-9 forms and other issues of importance to other small businesses.

  • posted on 4/1/2009
    My name is Cindy Lutch and I work as a HR Coordinator for a construction company. Is it ok to start using the new I-9 forms as of April 3, 2009? I just wanted to make sure the date hasn't been moved again. Thank you,
  • Ken Gaebler posted on 4/2/2009
    Ken Gaebler
    Cindy, no delay or movement on that date. Effective Friday April 3, all businesses must use the new I-9 form to verify immigration status for employment eligibility.

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