The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued regulations that require all employers to begin using a newly revised Form I-9 to verify the identity and work authorization eligibility of new employees.

The USCIS stated that employers should immediately begin using this new version of the Form I-9, which bears a revision date of 03/08/13. However, the USCIS has provided a 60-day grace period for employers to get into compliance. Prior acceptable versions of the Form I-9 (those with revision dates of 08/07/09 and 02/02/09) are acceptable until May 7, 2013. After May 7, employers must use the newly revised Form I-9.

The new Form I-9 is reformatted and contains several modifications, which the USCIS says were designed to minimize errors in form completion. Notably, for the first time the USCIS has expanded the Form I-9 from one to two pages (not including the accompanying List of Acceptable Documents). The new form also contains additional instructional notes and adds several new data fields, including fields for the employee’s telephone number and email address and, where applicable, information about the employee’s foreign passport. The USCIS has also issued updated instructions to help employers complete the new Form I-9 correctly. The new Form I-9 and these instructions can be found online.

Despite the revisions in the new Form I-9, the basic process for verifying employee work eligibility remains unchanged. The form still must be completed by the employer within three business days of an employee’s hire after verifying the employee's identity and work authorization using documents of the employee’s choosing off the List of Acceptable Documents accompanying the form. The USCIS has specifically stated that its issuance of the new Form I-9 does not mean that employers should reverify current employees for whom a completed Form I-9 is already on file. That is, the new Form I-9 should be used only for newly hired employees, except in those situations where re-verification applies (such as when an employee’s eligibility was initially verified using a document indicating limited-duration work authorization).

Employers should familiarize themselves with the new Form I-9 and the new Instructions for Employment Eligibility Verification immediately. They also should make sure that the copies of the new Form I-9 are available at all job sites and work locations where employees’ work eligibility is verified. And, most importantly, by no later than May 7, 2013, employers must begin using the new Form I-9—and only this version of the form—to verify their new employees.

The USCIS regulation announcing the new Form I-9 can be found here. Additional information on verifying employee eligibility is contained in the USCIS's Handbook for Employers: Instructions for Completing Form I-9 (M-274).