The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) is making changes regarding the Employment Verification Form, the I-9.  Since 1986 U.S. employers must complete the Form I-9 for all newly-hired employees to verify identity and authorization to work in the U.S.  

Currently, the I-9 asks for certain personal information from the employee: name and address, date of birth and social security number, in addition to confirmation of status in the United States (U.S. Citizen, U.S. permanent residence (green card holder), or other proof of work authorization status).  The Form I-9 further requires documentation confirming the employee’s work authorization status, and certification by the employer that it has reviewed the documents presented to demonstrate identity and work authorization status.  

On March 27, USCIS  announced that it revised the Form I-9 to include the following:

  • expanded instructions and a revised lay-out;
  • new optional data fields to collect the employee’s e-mail address and telephone number;
  • new data fields to collect the foreign passport number and country of issuance for work-authorized individuals who have recorded their admission number on the I-9.

Clearly, USCIS hopes to make it more difficult for foreign national employees to use fraudulent documents to demonstrate work authorization.  The new I-9 fields will also provide key information about the individual to Immigration and Customs Enforcement during audits of the employer’s I-9s.  The expanded I-9 will, however, increase the complexity of the employment verification process for employers.  

The proposed new Form I-9  calls into focus the need for an efficient employment verification process to ensure strong compliance and to be ready for ICE investigations and audits.  Given the substantial increase last year in ICE audits and investigations of companies’ work authorization practices, the necessity of increased training and annual internal audits is obvious.  ICE audits have increased in the last two years, resulting in substantial fines collected, and in some instances substantial work force disruption.  USCIS suggests that the information regarding the new Form I-9 will not be posted until the changes are finalized, and after review of the comments on the additional information have been received and reviewed.  This may be as long as 12 to 24 months.  Until that time, employers will continue to use the current version of the form.  

For complete details on the planned revision, please visit the Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 59 (Tuesday, March 27, 2012) (p. 18256) or via the government printing office ( [FR docs No: 2012-7340].