As hiring picks up, don’t forget Form I-9 responsibilities

Form I-9 responsibilities 600x400Employers in some sectors are going on a hiring spree. Really good news. But don’t forget your Form I-9 responsibilities. And just to make things a bit more confusing, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has clarified its position on accepting receipts for documents presented by new hires, in lieu of the actual I-9 documents. Here’s what you need to know.

First, a reminder

If new hires are working 100% remotely due to the pandemic, you can inspect their I-9 documents virtually. This flexibility was initiated in 2020 and has been extended several times. It’s now set to expire Aug. 31, 2021. Beginning Sept. 1, employers must perform in-person inspections of employees’ I-9 documents.

There are no exceptions for employees who work in the office — they must present I-9 documents and you must personally inspect those documents.

Receipt, please

New hires normally present documents showing they are authorized to work in the U.S. to fulfill their part of the I-9 process. If documents aren’t available, they can present receipts for those documents.

In a recent update to its web pages, the USCIS explains that an acceptable receipt is valid for a short period of time, so you can complete Section 2 or Section 3 of the I-9. Watch out: You can’t accept receipts if employment will last for fewer than three days.

Payroll Handbook D

But only certain receipts are acceptable.

A receipt showing employees have applied to replace a lost, stolen or damaged document. This receipt is valid for 90 days from the date of hire or in the case of re-verification, 90 days from the date employment authorization expired.

Bureaucracy being what it is these days, the 90-day deadline may lapse through no fault of employees. In those cases, employees can present other documents and if they do, you must complete a new Section 2 and attach it to the original Form I-9. You should also provide an explanatory note either in the additional information box on page 2 of the I-9 or as a separate attachment.

Arrival portion of Form I-94/I-94A (Arrival-Departure Record) with a temporary Form I-551 stamp and a photograph. Lawful permanent residents may present this List A receipt instead of their Form I-551, permanent resident cards.

This receipt is valid until the stamp’s expiration date or one year after the issuance date if the stamp doesn’t contain an expiration date.

When it expires, employees must provide their permanent resident cards.

Departure portion of Form I-94/I-94A with a refugee admission stamp or computer-generated printout of Form I-94 with admission code “RE.” A refugee may present this List A receipt. This receipt is valid for 90 days from the date of hire or in the case of re-verification, 90 days from the date employment authorization expired.

When the receipt expires, employees must present either Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document, or a combination of a List B document and unrestricted Social Security cards.

When employees provide an acceptable receipt for initial verification, you should:

  • Record the document title in Section 2 under List A, B or C, as applicable.
  • Enter the word receipt, the document title and number and the last day the receipt is valid.

After the receipt expires, you should:

  • Cross out the word receipt and any accompanying document number.
  • Record the document information from the documents presented.
  • Initial and date the change.