USCIS Releases Revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9)

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released a new version of the form for employment eligibility verification (I-9). Employers must use the I-9 form at the time when employees are hired in the United States, to verify employment authorization. While there is a brief grace period during which it is permissible to use either the new or previously acceptable versions of the form, employers must quickly transition to use the revised I-9. Deadlines and changes related to the new I-9 form are explained here to help employers and employees comply with federal law requirements.

New I-9 Form Released March 7, 2013

The USCIS announced the release of the revised I-9 on March 7, 2013, with regard to the change to the existing form and published in the Federal Register the next day. Part of the new I-9 is a revised set of instructions, which total six pages, found online with the new form. The USCIS has also released a revised version of its M-274 Handbook for Employers, which has been updated to reflect the changes to the I-9 form.

Deadline of May 7, 2013 to Use New Version of Form

The USCIS has set a deadline of May 7, 2013 for all U.S. employers to begin using the new I-9 form for all new hires, as well as for re-verification of employment eligibility, when needed. After that date, failure to properly complete the new version of the I-9 will expose an employer to penalties, which are enforced by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This does not mean that employers have to complete new I-9 forms for their workforce. It simply means that it is necessary to use a new version of the form when hiring new employees and in those situations where a new I-9 is required for re-verification of employment eligibility.

New Form Requires More Information

Employers may notice that the revised I-9, which has traditionally been a 1-page form with an additional page showing a chart of acceptable documents, is now 2 full pages. The USCIS has added new data fields to capture employee information, including details from foreign passports, telephone numbers, and eMail addresses. Based on the amount of information required by the new I-9 form, the expanded 2-page version may be somewhat clearer to employers and employees. The new I-9 is available on the USCIS WebSite.

Internal Audits Recommended to Verify I-9 Compliance

The past several years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of I-9 investigations conducted by ICE. The safest way for an employer to ensure compliance with I-9 regulations is to conduct an internal audit of the company's records.

Generally, it is recommend that internal audits be conducted by outside auditors, to reduce the risk that internal violations will be missed and found later by ICE, leading to fines and even potential exposure to criminal prosecution for company owners and managers. The increase in ICE investigations and the related risk to companies who are not I-9 compliant was discussed in the January 7, 2013 MurthyDotCom article entitled, FY12 Busiest Year So Far for ICE Audits.

Conclusion

In the current climate of investigations and even criminal prosecution for failure to properly verify employment authorization of workers, it is imperative that each company understands and complies with the verification and recordkeeping requirements of the I-9 form. The Murthy Law Firm will continue to track changes to the I-9 and the mandated I-9 verification process. MurthyDotCom readers will be updated with significant changes to help your business and your employees, as you strive to comply with the law.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.

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