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The new I-9 form

A year ago, I wrote a column about immigration compliance and Form I-9.

Surprise! The laws on immigration compliance have changed; here’s an update on what employers need to know.

To start with, there’s a new Form I-9, released March 8. You’ll know if you have the most recent form because on the bottom left-hand corner it says “Form I-9 03/08/13.”

The good news is that you don’t have to fill out a new I-9 for every employee, just newly hired employees and to reverify employees whose documentation is expiring. Make sure you have a valid I-9 on file for every employee.

The new form is longer and has a few new fields (because making it longer clearly makes it easier to use), and asks for the employee’s telephone, email address and passport information. Fortunately, the new instructions are more helpful.

Employers can’t specify which documents an individual uses to establish their right to work legally. For example, you can’t require that all employees present a U.S. Passport. Any document listed on the “Lists of Acceptable Documents” is adequate (see Form I-9, page 9).

You may photocopy the verified documents, but if you do, make sure you make photocopies for all new hires or reverifications. If you are inspected by a federal government agency, you can present the photocopies along with the completed forms.

Remember, you do not file Form I-9 with the government, rather you must keep all completed Form I-9s on file and available for inspection for each person on your payroll that is required to have the form.

Don’t guess if you’re not sure how to answer a question. Honest mistakes can turn into fines of up to $1,100 per violation. Worst-case scenario, you end up defending yourself in a discrimination lawsuit. When in doubt, consult an attorney.

The old Form I-9 will not be accepted after May 7, 2013. I recommend you switch over to the new form immediately for all new hires and recertifications. You can download the new form at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services website at

If you have Spanish-speaking employees you may be tempted to fill out the Spanish version of the Form I-9. The Spanish version is for employers and employees in Puerto Rico ONLY. You may use the Spanish version for reference, but the form must be completed in English to meet the verification requirements.

Mary Luros is a business law attorney with Hudson & Luros, LLP, in Napa, and can be reached at The information provided here is not legal advice, nor does it form an attorney-client relationship with the author. The author makes no representations as to the reliability or accuracy of the above information.

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