All employers, including nonprofit organizations, are required to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired to work in the United States, citizens and noncitizens alike, within three business days of the first date of active employment. An employer satisfies this requirement by completing Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 (Form I-9), as provided by the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Earlier this year, USCIS published an updated Form I-9 that employers were required to use commencing on May 7, 2013. Prior versions of Form I-9 no longer can be used for new hires or necessary re-verifications, and failure to use the updated Form I-9 could subject an employer to monetary penalties. The new Form I-9 is available for free download here.

In general, the updated Form I-9 contains several revisions that USCIS states are "designed to minimize errors in form completion." Such revisions include a) adding data fields; b) improving the form's instructions; and c) revising the layout of the form and expanding the core form from one to two pages.

The most common question we anticipate from the new Form I-9 is, "For whom do I need to complete this updated Form I-9?" As stated above, all employers must use the updated Form I-9 going forward for all new hires and re-verifications. Although the term "new hires" is self-explanatory, there may be some confusion regarding re-verifications. As a threshold matter, employees who are U.S. citizens never need re-verification. For all other employees, the employment authorization must be re-verified upon the expiration of their employment authorization and/or immigration status. Thus, while employers must remain cognizant of the expiration dates of these documents, they also should be careful not to seek or require unnecessary re-verifications, because such action could lead to claims of race or national origin discrimination.

For further information, you may want to review the Notice from the Federal Register regarding the updated Form I-9 and USCIS' Guidance for Completing Form I-9.