The Time to Comply is Now: The New “I-9 Sheriff” is in Town!

25 September 2017 Labor & Employment Law Perspectives Blog
Authors: Roy J. Barquet

As we have previously informed our readers, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued yet another update to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Employment Eligibility Verification Form (commonly referred to as Form I-9).

As of September 18, the revised Form I-9 is in effect, bringing a new paperwork duty for all U.S. employers. All employers who have not already done so must immediately disregard the old version of and begin using the new version of Form I-9. The new form is accessible on the (USCIS) website, and older versions of Form I-9 are no longer available to the public. The new version of Form I-9 is not required for existing employees, since it pertains only to new hires joining a company on or after September 18, 2017.

Following are some reminders for employers to keep in mind during the onboarding process:

  1. While the core requirements of Form I-9 remain unchanged, employers will find minor revisions concerning the instructions and the list of acceptable documents that confirm an intended employee’s identity and employment eligibility. Specifically, USCIS changed the name of the U.S. Department of Justice’s enforcement arm on employment eligibility compliance, namely from the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name of Immigrant and Employee Rights Section. What is more, USCIS modified the form’s instructions by removing “the end of” from the phrase “the first day of employment.” As a result, employers should amend their Form I-9 procedures to ensure that all intended employees complete the form’s Section 1 at the outset of the first day of employment.
  2. USCIS has also revised the list of acceptable documents concerning employment eligibility. Notably, USCIS added the Consular Report of Birth Abroad Form (Form FS-240) as an acceptable List C [employment eligibility] document. Form FS-240 is generated by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at U.S. embassies worldwide to record the birth of a U.S. citizen outside U.S. territorial limits. Now, employers completing Form I-9 on a computer will be able to select Form FS-240 from the drop-down menus available in List C pertaining to Section 2 and Section 3. E-Verify users will also be able to select Form FS-240 when creating a case for an employee who has presented this document for Form I-9. Lastly, USCIS combined all the certifications of report of birth issued by the DOS into selection C # 2 in List C and renumbered all List C documents, except the Social Security card.

USCIS has included all these changes in a revised Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9 (M-274), which is more user friendly than older editions of this document. Unlike previous versions of M-274, users can no longer download the handbook as a PDF document. Instead, USCIS has now organized and posted the M-274 handbook’s content as a web-based resource. It is yet unclear how USCIS will be updating this document.  By consequence, employers should regularly review the most updated, on-line content of the M-274 handbook, as it will likely be a more dynamic document.

3.  Another valuable resource for employers handling Form I-9 issues is the I-9 Central webpage available on the USCIS website. This webpage provides additional information about Form I-9, including learning resources and frequently asked questions.

Although the changes to Form I-9 are minor, failure to use the new version of the form can result in significant fines. Employers should therefore revisit their compliance policies to ensure a seamless transition to the new Form I-9.

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