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As fines increase, more attention needed on Form I-9

February 13, 2019

By Lori Stewart, SPHR®, SHRM-SCP, HCS, HR consulting partner at HKP

The Form I-9 has moved into the human resources spotlight over the past two years due to a heightened awareness of immigration. The form has been around since 1986, but has since gone through several revisions, with the latest released in September 2017 and valid until August of 2019.

Over the past 18 months, more and more companies are becoming aware of the importance of correct completion of these forms, and enforcement has also been increased by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Additionally, fines have increased for violations making it more critical than ever to ensure your processes are efficient and your forms are correct.

The current fine schedule looks like this:

  • I-9 paperwork violations: $224 to $2,236 per Form I-9.
  • Knowingly employing unauthorized alien (first order): $559 to $4,473 per violation.
  • Knowingly employing unauthorized alien (second order): $4,473 to $11,181 per violation.
  • Knowingly employing unauthorized alien (third or more order): $6,709 to $22,363 per violation.
  • Failure to inform government of continuing employment following e-verify final non-confirmation: $779 to $1,558 per violation.
  • Document abuse in I-9 process: $185 to $1,848 per violation.
  • Unfair immigration-related employment practices (first order): $461 to $3,695 per violation.
  • Unfair immigration-related employment practices (second order): $3,695 to $9,239 per violation.
  • Unfair immigration-related employment practices (third or more order): $5,543 to $18,477 per violation.

The increased pace of corporate mergers and acquisitions is adding another layer to this important issue. When paired with the increase in I-9 enforcement, buyers should beware of potential I-9 liabilities before closing the deal to mitigate risk of potential violations and significant fines.

In the past, the Form I-9 may have seemed like an insignificant piece of paper that simply gets filed way until it’s needed, if ever. But recent trends show it is increasingly one of the most crucial forms to which employers must devote their attention. For assistance with your I-9 responsibility or to get an assessment of your risk, contact your account manager.

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