New Form I-9 Went Into Effect on January 22, 2017
This is a reminder that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released an updated version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The new Form I-9, dated 11/14/2016, became mandatory on January 22, 2017, replacing the version dated March 8, 2013. As you know, pursuant to federal immigration law, employers must maintain a properly completed Form I-9 for all employees hired in the U.S. after November 6, 1986. Employers may access the new Form and its Instructions at: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-9.pdf. The most important change to the Form is that it can now be completed electronically, which may decrease errors. However, if you use the electronic Form I-9 on the government website, you must still print it out and have it signed by both the employee and employer. The Manual for Employers (M-274) is in the process of being updated, but there are still no changes regarding I-9 Forms for remote workers.
Immigration-Related Executive Orders
On January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order that created substantial changes to the United States’ long-standing refugee policy and other certain immigration benefits. It would also suspend the admission of individuals “from” the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 120 days. A subsequent communication from the Department of Homeland Security clarified that people who hold lawful permanent resident (“green card”) status will be readmitted to the U.S. even if they are from one of the seven countries. That means that if you employ someone in temporary status (e.g., H-1B, L-1, E-1/E/2, TN or O-1) and they are from the listed countries, they would have trouble reentering the U.S. if they were out of the country for business, vacation, family matters and the like.
Several federal courts have issued rulings to stay the terms of the Executive Order that would have barred the entry of foreign nationals from these countries even with a valid visa or status as a lawful permanent resident. After a district court judge in the Western District of Washington issued a stay, putting a temporary hold on enforcement of this ban, the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the stay, so this Executive Order is not being enforced as of this writing.
We advise clients that have employees who are nationals of the seven affected countries who are on temporary visas to avoid traveling internationally if possible, as another Executive Order may be issued while they are abroad. However, lawful permanent residents from the affected countries should be able to travel abroad and safely return to the United States. They should expect that it may take longer to clear Customs/Immigration when returning to the United States. We will keep you updated with immigration law changes that affect you and your employees.