In a recent announcement, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) unveiled a new version of Form I-9, that took effect on August 1, 2023. This streamlined and shortened Form I-9 represents a significant development for employers across the nation. However, there are crucial details to be aware of regarding the transition.
Transition Period: Employers can continue using the older Form I-9 (Rev. 10/21/19) until October 31, 2023. Beyond this date, utilizing the outdated form may result in penalties. Please note that the new version is available now for download.
Alternative Document Examination Procedures: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) introduced a final rule that provides a framework for employers to implement alternative document examination procedures, including remote document examination. Notably, the new Form I-9 now includes a checkbox to indicate when an employee's documentation was examined using a DHS-authorized alternative procedure.
E-Verify Employers: Beginning August 1, 2023, only employers who use E-Verify and are in good standing will be permitted to conduct verifications electronically. While this initially applies to E-Verify employers, these changes set the stage for permanent remote examination procedures that may soon become accessible to all employers, thanks to the new rule.
Remote Verification Process: For E-Verify employers performing remote verifications, certain requirements must be met. This includes conducting a live video interview with the employee, retaining copies of all documents presented during the I-9 verification process, and creating E-Verify cases for new employees. These measures are designed to ensure compliance and security throughout the remote verification process.
Completing the New Form I-9
Completed at the time of hire, Section 1 of the new form collects identifying information about the employee and requires the employee to attest to whether they are a U.S.citizen, noncitizen national, lawful permanent resident or non citizen authorized to work in the United States.
Completed within three days of the employee's hire, Section 2 of the new form collects information about the employee's identity and employment authorization. The employee must present original documentation proving the employee's identity and employment authorization, which the employer must review.
When new hires have preparers and/or translators assist them in completing Section 1, they should complete Supplement A.
Employers should fill outSupplement B when rehire occurs or re-verification is required. This should be completed prior to the date that the worker's employment authorization expires.Supplement B also may be used to record a name change.
Employers must maintain a person's Form I-9 for as long as the individual works for the employer and for the required retention period after the termination of an individual's employment (either three years after the date of hire or one year after the date employment ended, whichever is later).
Employers must make I-9 forms available for inspection upon request by officers of the DHS, the U.S.Department of Justice or the U.S. Department of Labor. Employers that don't complete and retain I-9 forms properly may face civil money penalties and, in some cases, criminal penalties, according to the DHS.
What's New in the Revised Form I-9?
USCIS made the following updates to the Form I-9:
- Reduced Sections 1 and 2 to a single-sided sheet. No previous fields were removed. Rather, multiple fields were merged into fewer fields when possible.
- Moved the Section 1 Preparer/Translator Certification area to a separate, standalone supplement (Supplement A) that employers can provide to employees when necessary. Employers may attach additional supplement sheets as needed.
- Moved the Section 3 Re-verification and Rehire area to a separate, standalone supplement (Supplement B) that employers can print if or when rehire occurs or re-verification is required. Employers may attach additional supplement sheets as necessary.
- Removed use of "alien authorized to work" in Section 1 and replaced it with "noncitizen authorized to work" as well as clarified the difference between "noncitizen national" and "noncitizen authorized to work."
- Ensured the form can be filled out on tablets and mobile devices.
- Removed certain features to ensure the form can be downloaded easily. This also removes the requirement to enter N/A in certain fields.
- Updated the notice at the top of the form that explains how to avoid discrimination in the Form I-9 process.
- Revised the Lists of Acceptable Documents page to include some acceptable receipts as well as guidance and links to information on automatic extensions of employment authorization documentation. Added a box that eligible employers must check if the employee's Form I-9 documentation was examined under a DHS-authorized alternative procedure rather than via physical examination.
USCIS also updated the following in the Form I-9 instructions:
- Reduced length of instructions from 15 pages to 8 pages.
- Added definitions of key actors in the Form I-9 process.
- Streamlined the steps each actor takes to complete their section of the form.
- Added instructions for use of the new checkbox for employers who choose to examine Form I-9 documentation under an alternative procedure.
- Removed the abbreviations charts and relocated them to the M-274, Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9.
Staying up-to-date with changes to Form I-9 and evolving verification procedures is critical for employers operating in the United States. The introduction of the streamlined Form I-9, alongside the potential for remote verification procedures, represents a significant shift in the way businesses handle employment documentation. By remaining informed and prepared, your organization can not only maintain compliance with federal regulations but also adapt to a more flexible and efficient verification process. Embracing these changes with diligence will ultimately contribute to smoother operations and reduced risks in the realm of employment verification.