On March 8, 2013, The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services released a new version of Form I-9, which employers must use to verify identity and employment eligibility for all new employees. All employers must begin using the new version of Form I-9 no later than May 7, 2013. You can see which version of the form you are using by looking at the lower left hand corner of the document. The most recent version is “03/08/13 N.” 

There are three main changes to Form I-9. First, the form has been reformatted to cover two pages instead of one. The employee will complete page one, and the employer is required to complete page two. Employers are required to re-write the employee’s name on the top of the second page of the form, in case the two pages become separated. Printing or copying the form double-sided is allowed, and will ensure that the two pages are always kept together, while reducing the space required for storage.

Second, the instructions to the form have also been reformatted and expanded to provide more detailed guidance on completing all of the required sections. There are now six pages of instructions instead of the previous three. However, the more detailed instructions come at a price: the government estimates that it will now take 35 minutes to complete the revised Form I-9, including reading the instructions, instead of the 12 minutes estimated for the prior version.

Third, the employee information section now gives employees the option to provide an e-mail address and telephone number. The Department of Homeland Security will use the e-mail address and telephone number to contact the employee if it learns of a potential mismatch between the information the employee provided and government records. The instructions state that the e-mail and telephone number are optional, but that is not clear on the form. If employees do not wish to provide an e-mail or telephone number, they must write “N/A” in the relevant boxes. 

As before, a completed Form I-9 is not filed with the government. Instead, employers are required to maintain a copy of each employee’s I-9 until one year after the end of employment, or three years after they are hired, whichever is later. Employers must be able to allow the government to inspect the forms within three days upon request.

The most recent version of Form I-9 along with an updated handbook for employers can be downloaded from the USCIS website at:www.uscis.gov/i-9