New 2017 Form I-9 Compliance Tips

Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of all employees hired to work in the United States.  All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of the form for both citizens and noncitizens alike.  The Department of Homeland Security has recently released its updated version of the Form I-9, with an expiration date of 8/31/2019.  Any previous versions of the form can no longer be used as of January 22, 2017.    The form contains two pages; one for the employee and one for the employer.  This new version can now be completed in PDF form.

We’ve already had some indication of the new President’s views on immigration issues so employers would be wise to ensure they would pass an I-9 audit, if necessary.  Non-compliance could result in both civil and criminal penalties.  Something as simple as not completing an I-9 for one employee could result in civil fines ranging from $216 per form up to $2,156 per form, on a first offense.  The fines increase for second and third offenses.  There are also fines for committing document fraud in order to complete the form or knowingly hiring someone unauthorized to work in the U.S.

Assistance with completing the Form I-9 can be found here:

Here are some helpful tips:

The employee MUST complete and sign page one of the I-9 on their first day of employment (just be sure a job offer has been extended and accepted).

The employer MUST complete and sign page three of the I-9, which includes verifying the employee’s acceptable identification, no later than the employee’s third day of employment.

The employer should only sign page three if they have viewed the employee’s original identification documents.

Employees should present one piece of identification from List A or one item from BOTH lists B and C.

An employer cannot tell an employee which document(s) to present for verification.

If you retain copies of one employee’s identification you must do so for all employees (there are special rules for identification used for E-Verify purposes).  If you choose to discontinue the practice of retaining identification, you should not destroy any previously retained copies.

Do not leave any sections on page one or three incomplete.  If any sections do not apply (such as the email box), be sure to enter “NA.”

If you have remote offices, an employer can designate an individual at that office to complete the employer section of the form.

Form I-9 should be retained separate from the rest of the employee’s file for quick access if an audit is necessary.

You do not need an I-9 on file for any employees hired prior to November 7, 1986.

If you discover that you do not have an I-9 on file for an employee or employees, quickly complete one with today’s date and include documentation of what occurred when storing the form.  The employee, nor the employer, should not back-date the form.

The Spanish version of the I-9 form cannot be used unless you are located in Puerto Rico.

As a reminder, employers in Utah who have more than 15 employees are required to use E-Verify as an additional step, after completing the I-9.  However, E-Verify does NOT replace the I-9 requirement.


The contents of this article should not be construed as legal advice.  You should consult your legal counsel should you have questions regarding Form I-9.