The Deceptively Simple Form I-9


In March 2013, after receiving thousands of comments, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued an updated Form I-9. The goal was to simplify the Form, reformat it, and clarify the instructions to reduce errors and omissions. The new Form I-9 is two pages, and the instructions have ballooned to seven detailed pages.

How important is accurate completion of the Form I-9, really? U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reportedly spent $138 million in worksite enforcement efforts in 2012, which resulted in over 3,000 employer audits, more than twice the number audited in 2009. In addition, in 2012, 238 company managers were arrested as a result of enforcement efforts, and nearly $13 million in penalties were imposed, a significant increase over prior years. According to an Associated Press report, the median fine in 2011 was $11,000, with a high of nearly $400,000. Many of these fines were imposed for purely technical violations (i.e., administrative errors, such as incomplete forms), rather than employing undocumented workers.

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