Beginning on May 16, 2011, employers will be required to comply with a rule issued by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that modifies the list of identity and employment authorization documents necessary to complete the Form I-9 employment eligibility verification process.

Employers should review the new USCIS policies and ensure that their hiring managers are properly trained on documentation and Form I-9 compliance. All employers are required to have a Form I-9 for each employee hired to work in the United States, regardless of citizenship. Failure to comply can result in civil monetary penalties of up to $1,100 per violation.

The new rule, which finalizes a 2008 interim rule, mandates that employers accept from applicants only unexpired documents in connection with employment eligibility verification. It eliminates use of certain documents that are no longer issued by the USCIS, including temporary resident cards and older versions of employment authorization cards.

The rule also now recognizes the following additional documents as forms of employment eligibility verification sufficient to satisfy List A: the new U.S. Passport Card; the temporary Form I-551 “permanent resident card,” which contains a machine-readable immigration visa; and valid passports for citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Marshall Islands.

The primary purpose of the new rule is to improve the security of the employment eligibility verification process by eliminating reliance upon expired documents, believed to be more susceptible to fraud and counterfeiting.