The U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires employers to verify the identity and employment authorization eligibility of new hires. Employers must fill out USCIS Form I-9 to satisfy this requirement. On March 8, 2013, the USCIS released a new version of this form, along with instructions requiring employers to begin using the new form immediately.
Employers must begin using the updated Form I-9 immediately for all new hires. A 60-day transitional period is available for employers that need some time to incorporate the new form into their hiring processes. As a result, all employers must use the updated form for new hires by May 7, 2013.
The USCIS has specifically mentioned that there is no need for employers to replace all Forms I-9 for current employees. The USCIS has also warned employers that unnecessary verifications associated with replacing existing forms could result in discriminatory actions that violate the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
However, employers should use Section 3 of the new Form I-9 (and attach it to the already existing form I-9) if they are re-verifying an employee’s documents. Re-verification should take place only when the documents an employee presented as proof of his or her eligibility or authorization for employment are about to expire. Read the instructions attached to Form I-9 carefully to determine when re-verification is necessary.
Employers rehiring individuals, even within the three-year period allowed by Section 3 of Form I-9, should fill out a new Form I-9 for their rehired employees.
Summary of Changes
Employers will find that, while the form’s format and layout has changed considerably, the nature of the data required to complete it is substantially similar. The changes made by the USCIS have transformed the previous one-page form into a two-page form that allows for additional data fields to include email addresses, telephone numbers and foreign passport numbers.
The USCIS also simplified, clarified and expanded the instructions that accompany the updated form.
Employer I-9 Requirements
With this new release, the USCIS reiterated that employers are required to maintain a completed Form I-9 for each employee for as long as employers and employees maintain a working relationship and for either three years after the date of hire or one year after employment ends, whichever is later.
Employers also have an obligation to make Forms I-9 available for inspection by any authorized government institution. Employers that fail to comply with their Form I-9 obligations may be sanctioned with civil, and in some cases criminal, penalties.