The transition to the new I-9 form should now be complete for employers, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) declining to accept old forms after May 7.
The Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. Both the employee and the employer must complete the form; employers must also examine the employee’s documentation establishing his or her identity and employment authorization and determine if the documents “reasonably appear to be genuine.”
The revised I-9 includes new fields (for employee telephone number, e-mail address and foreign passport information), new formatting intended to reduce errors, and clearer instructions, according to the USCIS. Accompanying the revised form is a new “Handbook for Employers” (M-274), which offers an FAQ section with guidance on the proper completion of the form. The agency estimated that the now two-page form will take roughly 21 more minutes to complete. Employers do not need to complete a new form for existing employees with a valid I-9 on file.
One wrinkle for employers: The fields for employee e-mail and telephone number are actually optional, although the form itself does not indicate that. The request for the contact information has led some commentators to wonder if the agency plans to use it in the course of an audit. Employers must decide whether to inform employees they are not obligated to fill in those fields.
The new forms were released on March 8, but employers had a 60-day grace period to transition to the new forms. Now that the deadline has passed, employers should only be using the revised I-9 or face penalties ranging from $110 to $1,100 per form.
To view the new I-9 form and accompanying instructions, click here.
To review the USCIS Handbook for Employers, click here.
Why it matters: With the use of the new forms now mandatory, employers should be up to speed on the changes. The transition to the new form also provides the opportunity to remind managers and human resources representatives not to treat employees disparately or discriminately during the process of I-9 completion – for example, demanding more documentation than the law requires or rejecting documents that appear to be genuine on their face. Such actions could lead to a discrimination claim, as well as fines from the USCIS.