That old stalwart of HR paperwork—the I-9—finally got its much-anticipated face lift. On Nov. 7, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new version of the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9). Since 1986, employers have been required to complete the I-9 for each new hire to verify the person’s identity and work eligibility.
Employers should start using the new form immediately. The new form reduces by five the number of documents employees may use to prove their eligibility to work in the United States.
Employers may no longer accept the following documents when filling out Section 2 of the form, which asks employers to “review and verify” employees’ identity documents:
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561)
- Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
- Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151)
- Unexpired Reentry Permit (Form I-327)
- Unexpired Refugee Travel Document (Form I-571).
According to CIS spokesperson Bill Wright, employers need to begin using the new I-9 form immediately. “The new form goes into effect today,” he said on Thursday, Nov. 8. A fact sheet on the CIS web site notes that “employers may incur fines and penalties for failing to use the new Form I-9.”
A CIS statement said the five documents were no longer acceptable proof because “they lack features to help deter counterfeiting, tampering, and fraud.”
Due to the short notice, Wright said CIS will grant a 30-day grace period for employers to begin using the new form. “I-9 documentation that is in process now will be okay,” he said. “Employers don’t need to tear it up and start over.”
You only need to use new I-9 version for new hires. You don’t need to complete new forms for existing employees. However, you must use the new I-9 when employees require reverification.
All of the five now-invalid documents were formerly on the I-9’s “List A” of documents that employees could use to establish both their identity and eligibility to work. All of them are official CIS documents, and all had been acceptable proof of employment eligibility since 1986. For the last few years, a "Special Instructions" section on the CIS web site has discouraged employers from accepting these five documents, but the agency has until now stopped short of publishing a new I-9.
Documents you can use
The pared-down list of documents employees can use to prove their identities and eligibility to work now numbers just five:
- U.S. Passport
- Permanent Resident Alien Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card
- An unexpired foreign passport with a temporary I-551 stamp
- An unexpired Employment Authorization Document that contains a photograph
- An unexpired foreign passport with an unexpired Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94 (showing non-immigrant status and authorization to work).
In addition to reducing the number of acceptable documents, the new I-9 form clarifies that it is voluntary for employees to provide their Social Security numbers on Section 1, unless their employers participate in CIS's Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification Program, also known as E-Verify. "The Social Security number has always been optional," said Wright. "The instructions on the form just haven't been clear about that until now."
New format, font and grammar changes aim to make the I-9 more readable and user-friendly. The new version carries an internal revision date of “(Rev.06/05/07)” on bottom right corner of the I-9.
- You can download copies of the new I-9 form at: http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/I-9.pdf
- A CIS fact sheet on the new form is at: http://www.uscis.gov/files/pressrelease/FormI9FS110707.pdf
- Download CIS's revised Handbook for Employers: Instructions for Completing the Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form) at http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/m-274.pdf
I-9 do's and don'ts
The I-9 form may have changed, but HR's responsibilities for seeing that it's properly filled out haven't. Sidestep potential legal troubles by following these I-9 do's and don'ts.
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