New Form I-9 Proposed in Federal Register on November 24, 2015
In 1986, I studied the proposed worksite compliance laws and Form I-9. I handled the 13th worksite enforcement case ever filed in 1987. During that time, I began to wonder if it was time to bite the bullet and move toward a national ID card for U.S. citizens and a similar document for foreign nationals entitled to work in the U.S. Over the years worksite compliance has not gotten easier and we still have no simplified ID system in place. Now, almost 30 years after studying that first I-9, I am pouring over the latest (13th) proposed updated Form I-9 with drop downs for every box and zillions of pages of instructions, all proposed to make the process easier for employers and employees.
I pity the unprepared HR professional next Spring when he/she studies the new Form I-9 with its 15 pages of instructions, reviews all the drop down menus, reads every page of the 65 page M-274 and constantly checks I-9 Central for updates.
E-Verify may cut down on submission of fraudulent documents but it does not speed up the I-9 process and opens employers to scrutiny by ICE and the OSC for document abuse and fines for requesting certain documents from employees. Electronic I-9s may be the coming rage but they only help if the employers are truly compliant with the rules.
I-9 audits and fines for noncompliant employers are necessary to develop a culture of compliance in the workplace, but they are a trap for the unwary.