The new form is designed to address frequent points of confusion that arise for both employees and employers and help employers reduce technical errors that could result in fines. Some of the changes include the following:
- New additions or prompts to ensure information is entered correctly. For instance, the form will validate the correct number of digits for a Social Security number;
- New drop-down lists and calendars.
- Embedded instructions for completing each field.
- Additional spaces to enter multiple preparers and translators.
- The requirement that workers provide only other last names used in Section 1, rather than all other names used, as was previously required. U.S.C.I.S explained that this change was made to avoid possible discrimination claims and protect the privacy of transgender and other individuals who have changed their first names;
- A dedicated area to enter additional information that employers are currently required to note in the margins of the form;
- Separate instructions from the Form I-9 itself. However, employers are still required to provide the instructions to an employee when completing the Form I-9.
Additionally, employers need to keep in mind that effective January 1, 2017, California's new law prohibiting specified Unfair Immigration Related Practices went into effect. Recall, under this new law, two common practices (i) so-called "document abuse" and (ii) over documentation are now unlawful under California law. Document abuse occurs when an employer insists that the applicant provide specified documents instead of permitting the applicant to choose which of the authorized documents he or she wishes to present in support of the Form I-9 Form. Over documentation is when an employer requires that the applicant submit more documents than are legally required by the Form I-9.
Some of the unfair practices which are now unlawful under the new law, include the following:
1. requesting more or different documents than required under federal law to verify eligibility;
2. refusing to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine;
3. refusing to honor documents or work authorization based upon the specific status or term of status that accompanies the authorization to work; or
4. attempting to re-investigate or re-verify an incumbent employee's authorization to work using an unfair immigration practice.
Any applicant or employee who is subjected to any of these unlawful acts may now file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (aka Labor Commissioner's Office).The Labor Commissioner is authorized to award a penalty up to $10,000 per violation.
If you have any questions about this article, please contact any member of the Firm. We can be reached at (818) 508-3700, or online at www.brgslaw.com.