The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has just released a revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for immediate use and a new M-274, Handbook for Employers, Instructions for Completing the Form I-9.

All employers are required to complete a Form I-9 for each employee hired in the United States. The USCIS has encouraged employers to start using the new form as soon as possible. According to the USCIS, employers that fail to use the new Form I-9 after the effective date (as established by publication in the Federal Register) may incur fines and penalties.

According to Andrew Merrills, a shareholder in Ogletree Deakins' Raleigh office: "Updating the I-9 has been long overdue. Although an updated form is clarifying and is generally a welcome development, the Bush Administration has made it clear that, in the absence of more comprehensive immigration reform, it intends to increase enforcement. Accordingly, employers may want to take this opportunity to audit their existing I-9s and review their current policies and procedures."

The basic Form I-9 remains substantially the same as compared to earlier versions, although the form and accompanying instructions appear to be more user-friendly than prior versions. The most significant changes were made to the form instructions, including:

1. Five documents have been removed from List A of the List of Acceptable 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)

2. One document was added to List A of the List of Acceptable Documents: - Unexpired Employment Authorization Document (I-766)

3. All the Employment Authorization Documents with photographs in circulation are now included as one item on List A:

- I-688, I-688A, I-688B, I-766

According to the USCIS, the new I-9 Form (dated June 5, 2007) can and should be used immediately. The previously authorized I-9 Form, dated May 31, 2005, is scheduled to be accepted until December 7, 2007.

A copy of the new Form I-9 can be found at http://wwwuscis.gov/files/form/I-9.pdf and the new Handbook can be found at http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/m-274.pdf. The new Handbook contains updated examples of completed I-9s and updated, color copies of various acceptable documents.