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The New I-9 Employment Verification Form

MSK Client Alert
March 2013

After many months of announcements and discussion, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”), released a new edition of the Form I-9 on March 8, 2013. This newest version of the form goes into effect immediately. However, USCIS has authorized a sixty (60) day grace period during which either the new version of the form or the last version may be used. Following the end of the grace period, on May 7, 2013, all U.S. employers are required to use the new Form I-9 for all new hires. Employers should not complete the new I-9 for current employees unless it is being used for reverification purposes.

The Form I-9, intended to document verification of the identity and employment authorization of each new employee, has seen many minor modifications and revisions in the last several years, but none as significant as the current changes to the form. Furthermore, as it is the employer’s responsibility to complete and retain each Form I-9 for each new employee, it is also the responsibility of all employers to familiarize themselves with the new features of the form and the mandatory time frames for its usage.

The Changes to the New Form I-9

The new Form I-9 has been expanded to two (2) full pages (not including the lists of acceptable documents) – a departure from the traditional one-page document. It is also accompanied by six (6) pages of instructions that are far more detailed and comprehensive than previous versions. Within the new two-page form are several new information fields that were not present in any prior version of the form. Most of these new information fields are contained in Section 1 of the form (the section completed by the employee), which now takes up all of page 1. There are also several more minor modifications to Section 2 (the section completed by the employer). The most notable changes to the form and instructions are the following:

The New Handbook for Employers

The new Form I-9 is accompanied by a newly revised version of the M-274: Handbook for Employers, available online at www.uscis.gov. This newest version of the Handbook was also revised on March 8, 2013, and is a seventy (70) page long manual that attempts to cover all possible scenarios an employer may encounter when completing the Form I-9. It is no surprise that it takes 70 pages to explain the proper use of the Form I-9 as it is a deceptively simple form that carries weighty consequences for those employers that neglect it or misuse it.

Implications and Recommendations

Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp’s team of experienced Immigration Attorneys has spent the past few months monitoring the development of this newest version of the Form I-9 and is intimately familiar with the changes, and the purposes for the changes. We recommend that all U.S. employers make the necessary changes to company I-9 compliance manuals, policies, and procedures between now and May 7, 2013, to ensure that the new form is being used, and used correctly. In many ways, the new Form I-9 attempts to make the process of documenting employee identity and employment verification easier by using clearer language and more thorough instructions. However, USCIS has left several unanswered questions about the negative implications for improper completion of the form’s newest fields. Certain clerical errors in the completion of a Form I-9, commonly referred to as technical errors (as opposed to substantive errors), carry much harsher penalties than others. Until the government releases additional guidance on this, employers should assume that improper completion of any section of the newest version of the form may carry strict penalties. Human resources professionals should also familiarize themselves with the newest version of the I-9 instructions and the revised version of the Handbook for Employers. We also recommend the implementation of I-9 compliance training programs to instruct all human resources personnel on the proper use and storage of the form. Our team of knowledgeable immigration attorneys will be happy to guide such training programs and answer any questions that you may have.

For a PDF copy of the revised I-9 Employment Verification Form please click here.

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