Last week, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") released a new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. This action comes less than a year after USCIS's previous release, in November 2016, of a new, "smart" version of Form I-9, including drop-down menus.
Use of the latest Form I-9, which includes a revision date of July 17, 2017, will be mandatory for employers as of September 18, 2017.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), employers are permitted to hire only employees who have authorization to work in the U.S. Form I-9 must be used to verify the employment authorization of all employees hired after November 6, 1986.
Section 1 of Form I-9 must be completed by the employee on or before the date of hire. The employer must then examine the employee's employment authorization documents and complete Section 2 of the Form I-9 within three business days following the date of hire.
The revisions incorporated in the newest version of Form I-9 are fairly minor. For example, the instructions have been changed to reflect the new name of the former Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices. That office, which enforces the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA, is now known as the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.
In addition, the words "the end of" have been removed from the phrase "the first day of employment."
The revised Form I-9 also includes some revisions to "List C," which delineates the specific identification documents that employees may provide to prove their employment eligibility:
All certifications of reports of birth issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350, and Form FS-240) have been combined into a single section in List C; and
All of the documents included in List C, except for the Social Security card, have been renumbered.
Finally, USCIS has released an updated version of its "Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9 (M-274)."
Although the new Form I-9 is not required until September 18, 2017, we recommend that employers begin using the new Form as soon as possible for all new hires, rehires and reverifications. Even paperwork violations in connection with the I-9 process can result in substantial fines - ranging from $216 up to $2,156 per Form - so simply using the wrong version of Form I-9 could prove costly for an employer in the event of an I-9 audit.
Further, in light of the Trump Administration's focus on immigration enforcement, it is imperative that employers be diligent throughout the employment verification process. The Administration is expected to continue to increase the number of Form I-9 audits and workplace raids carried out by USCIS, and employers found to have employed unauthorized workers face severe sanctions.
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Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the Form I-9 verification process, or if we can help with any other business immigration matter.