By Leah Shepherd
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced July 21 a new Form I-9—which has been streamlined and shortened—that employers should use beginning Aug. 1, 2023.
Employers may continue to use the older Form I-9 (Rev. 10/21/19) through Oct. 31, 2023. After that date, they will be subject to penalties if they use the older form. The new version will not be available for downloading until Aug. 1.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final rule that allows the agency to create a framework under which employers can implement alternative document examination procedures, such as remote document examination. The new form subsequently has a checkbox to indicate when an employee’s Form I-9 documentation was examined using a DHS-authorized alternative procedure.
DHS confirmed that only employers that use E-Verify who are in good standing may continue to conduct verifications electronically after Aug. 1, 2023, though the stage has been set for permanent remote examinations to become a reality for all employers based on the new rule. E-Verify employers performing remote verification must conduct a live video interview with the employee, retain copies of all documents presented in the I-9 verification process and create E-Verify cases for new employees, according to Ian Wagreich, an attorney with Hinshaw & Culbertson in Chicago.
Emily Dickens, SHRM’s chief of staff, head of public affairs and corporate secretary, said, “SHRM enthusiastically welcomes this new development, as we have been advocating for a remote Form I-9 verification process for years, particularly over the last three years with the implementation of the COVID-19 flexibilities. The Remote Form I-9 Alternative Procedure reflects the modern reality of the American workforce and HR processes and takes account of current and emerging technology – all while investing in the integrity and the security of the U.S. immigration system.”
“The new I-9 rule is a giant leap forward in that it recognizes that remote employment is prevalent and that some of the old I-9 rules needed to be updated,” said Greg Berk, an attorney with Sheppard Mullin in Costa Mesa, Calif. “E-Verify is a robust verification tool, and therefore, if an employer is enrolled in E-Verify, then allowing them more flexibility with remote employees is good policy.”
Completing the New Form I-9
Completed at the time of hire, Section 1 of the new form collects identifying information about the employee and requires the employee to attest to whether they are a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national, lawful permanent resident or noncitizen authorized to work in the United States.
Completed within three days of the employee’s hire, Section 2 of the new form collects information about the employee’s identity and employment authorization. The employee must present original documentation proving the employee’s identity and employment authorization, which the employer must review. When new hires have preparers and/or translators assist them in completing Section 1, they should complete Supplement A.
Employers should fill out Supplement B when rehire occurs or reverification is required. This should be completed prior to the date that the worker’s employment authorization expires. Supplement B also may be used to record a name change.
Employers must maintain a person’s Form I-9 for as long as the individual works for the employer and for the required retention period after the termination of an individual’s employment (either three years after the date of hire or one year after the date employment ended, whichever is later).
Employers must make I-9 forms available for inspection upon request by officers of the DHS, the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. Department of Labor. Employers that don’t complete and retain I-9 forms properly may face civil money penalties and, in some cases, criminal penalties, according to the DHS.
What’s New in the Revised Form I-9?
USCIS made the following updates to the Form I-9:
- Reduced Sections 1 and 2 to a single-sided sheet. No previous fields were removed. Rather, multiple fields were merged into fewer fields when possible.
- Moved the Section 1 Preparer/Translator Certification area to a separate, standalone supplement (Supplement A) that employers can provide to employees when necessary. Employers may attach additional supplement sheets as needed.
- Moved the Section 3 Reverification and Rehire area to a separate, standalone supplement (Supplement B) that employers can print if or when rehire occurs or reverification is required. Employers may attach additional supplement sheets as necessary.
- Removed use of “alien authorized to work” in Section 1 and replaced it with “noncitizen authorized to work” as well as clarified the difference between “noncitizen national” and “noncitizen authorized to work.”
- Ensured the form can be filled out on tablets and mobile devices.
- Removed certain features to ensure the form can be downloaded easily. This also removes the requirement to enter N/A in certain fields.
- Updated the notice at the top of the form that explains how to avoid discrimination in the Form I-9 process.
- Revised the Lists of Acceptable Documents page to include some acceptable receipts as well as guidance and links to information on automatic extensions of employment authorization documentation. Added a box that eligible employers must check if the employee’s Form I-9 documentation was examined under a DHS-authorized alternative procedure rather than via physical examination.
USCIS also updated the following in the Form I-9 instructions:
- Reduced length of instructions from 15 pages to 8 pages.
- Added definitions of key actors in the Form I-9 process.
- Streamlined the steps each actor takes to complete their section of the form.
- Added instructions for use of the new checkbox for employers who choose to examine Form I-9 documentation under an alternative procedure.
- Removed the abbreviations charts and relocated them to the M-274, Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9.