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Employers Beware: New I-9 Form Published Today

Today, USCIS published a notice of revised I-9 form in the Federal Register. USCIS states: “Although employers should begin using the 03/08/13 dated form right away, older forms dated 02/02/09 and 08/07/09 will be accepted until May 7, 2013. After May 7, 2013, only the 03/08/13 will be accepted. The revision date is on the lower left corner of the form.” USCIS has also scheduled free webinars to help employers understand the new form.

Primary changes to the new form include more thorough instructions for employees and employers, a visually easier layout, and ability to complete online. USCIS added data fields, including the employee’s foreign passport information (if applicable), and telephone and email addresses. The form is now two pages rather than one, excluding the list of usable documents to verify work authorization. The list of acceptable documents include additional details about individual documents such as the various types of acceptable Social Security cards. Employers should still refer to I-9 Central for more details. The Handbook for Employers (M-274), mentioned in an earlier blog post below, is being updated.

The I-9 form is to be used by employers who hire, refer or recruit for a fee. The form is to be completed by the employer and employee within three business days of hire and may not be used as a screening tool. Employees must document their identity and work authorization in the US. The form is to be used for all new hires, including US citizens. Employers can be fined for failing to complete I-9s, for completing them improperly, for failing to retain them, and for knowingly hiring unauthorized workers. This has been the law since November 6, 1986.

In 2012, USCIS held several comment periods to obtain feedback from the public about needed revisions to the form I-9. All employers should begin using this new version of the form now for new hires after today, but definitely by May 7, 2013. Employers that use electronic I-9s have 60 days to upgrade their systems. Employers should not go back and re-verify using the new form if they previously verified using older forms. And, indeed, employers may not engage in unnecessary verification that would lead to violations of the anti-discrimination rules.

See an earlier post on this Seattle Immigration Lawyer Blog on the subject of I-9 compliance and issues:
Employers in Denial: Still Clueless or Avoiding I-9 Obligations?