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Revised I-9 Handbook For Employers (M-274) Released

I previously wrote about the new I-9 form published by USCIS on March 8. The Handbook for Employers, or M-274, has also been updated. The biggest changes are the additional and expanded pictures of the various documents employers are likely to encounter. However, there are also a number of minor changes that can raise a number of questions by employers as to the appropriate documents that are acceptable or raise questions about the details in completing the I-9s.

Today, I attended a teleconference held by USCIS with stakeholders about the new I-9s. Employers’ questions centered around what to do when re-verifying employees who have updated documents. USCIS says to use the new March 8, 2013 form and to attach the old I-9 to it. There were many other questions raised by referrers and recruiters for a fee (e.g., staffing companies) and universities, all of which have seasonal or re-hire scenarios. The new I-9 form has a new place to indicate the start date for new hires. Other questions or concerns addressed the new boxes for the various types of Social Security cards, and what to do if someone has requested a replaced Social Security card. Many questions centered around when to use the old v. new form, whether to re-verify existing employees on the new form (No!), how long to keep scanned I-9s(same retention rules as paper versions), and whether employers can pre-populate forms from other data sources (e.g., payroll company information)(no, not the employee section, yes for the employer name and address only in part 2).

USCIS is holding numerous free public webinars and will also customize their training for employers who request it. Employers should start by taking a close look at the new I-9, read the instructions and regulation thoroughly, and then review the Handbook. Be sure to look at I-9 Central and call experienced counsel if you run into any unusual problems or wish to conduct an internal audit or training of personnel.