Executive Summary: Employers are required to start using the revised Form I-9 by May 7th, and staff members responsible for employee eligibility verification should be trained in changes to the form.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently revised the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 (“Form I-9” or “Form”), which employers are required to complete on all newly-hired employees to verify their identity and authorization to work in the United States. Employers are required to begin using the new Form no later than May 7, 2013. The Form I-9’s recent facelift is designed to improve compliance and minimize errors in completion of the Form.

The primary changes to the Form I-9 include:

  • New data fields in Section 1 of the Form, including the employee’s telephone number and e-mail address (which is optional) and foreign passport information (if applicable).
  • New instructions which provide additional guidance to employers and employees when completing the Form. 
  • New format which expands the document from one to two pages (not including the instructions and List of Acceptable Documents). Section 1 has been expanded and now covers the entire first page of the Form.

Employers should begin using the new Form I-9 immediately for all employees hired from this date forward, and for any employee re-verifications. Re-verification is required when an employee’s employment authorization document expires, and the employer must “re-verify” the employee’s work authorization by completing Section 3 of the Form. In preparation for the May 7th deadline, and to avoid civil penalties, employers should ensure they are familiar with the changes to the Form, that management personnel are adequately trained on completing the Form, and that the new Form I-9 is used for all new hires, and employee re-verifications.

The USCIS permits employers to retain their Form I-9s electronically, on microfilm, or on paper. Employers are allowed to make double-sided copies of the Form I-9. Only the pages that the employee and employer enter data on must be retained, and must include the original signatures.

Employers can order copies of the new Form I-9 by calling the USCIS Forms Request Line at 1-800-870-3676, or they can access electronic copies on the website at www.uscis.gov. In addition, the USCIS has updated its publication “Handbook for Employers”, available at http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/m-274.pdf, which is a valuable resource for employers to have on-hand if assistance is needed in completing the Form I-9.