September 9, 2020

Form I-9 Increased Penalties in 2020

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on January 31 that employers should begin using the updated Form I-9 dated October 21, 2019, for new hires as of January 31, 2020; however, employers were given a grace period through April 30, 2020. Now that this time has passed, employers are required to use the new version of the Form I-9. The new version of the form contains minor revisions to the form and instructions, which are explained in detail on the USCIS website.

Employers must complete a Form I‐9 for any employee hired after November 6, 1986. The Form I-9 is used to verify the employee’s identity and their ability to work in the United States, and it should be filled out on the first day of employment with the city.

The minimum fine per individual for paperwork or technical violations increased in 2020 from $230 to $234, while the maximum fine increased from $2,292 to $2,332. Fines for knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized workers went up as well. The range for a first offense went from $573-$4,586 to $583-$4,667.

On April 3, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security announced relaxed guidelines for the in-person review of Form I-9 documents, which is unlikely to impact cities. For a complete list of questions and answers related to this guidance, see the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

As a reminder, if the city maintains paper copies, it is a good practice to keep one file containing all employee I-9s within that file in alphabetical order. This ensures you can easily comply with the three-day requirement to turn over these documents if requested by the Department of Labor or Department of Justice. Another reason for this practice is that the information on these forms is confidential and would never be subject to an open records request. Having them outside of the personnel file in a locked cabinet ensures that they will remain confidential.

Retention of these records will be at least as long as the employee works for the city. Once the employee has left city employment, the employer is required to keep them three years from the date of hire or one year from the date of termination, whichever is longer.

For additional questions regarding this or other personnel-related matters, contact KLC Personnel Services Manager Andrea Shindlebower Main.