The Form I-9 is an essential document used by employers in the United States to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals they hire to work in the country. This crucial process ensures that all employees are legally authorized to work, preventing potential legal issues and maintaining compliance with immigration laws. Recently, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a revision to the Form I-9, introducing several changes aimed at improving usability and clarity for both employers and employees. In this article, we will delve into the key changes made to the revised Form I-9 and provide you with a comprehensive understanding of how to comply with the new requirements.
The new version has been available since August 1, 2023. The older version will continue to be accepted until October 31, 2023, when the new version will be required to be used.
Form I-9: Purpose and Usage
The Form I-9, also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification Form, is a critical component of the hiring process in the United States. Its primary purpose is to confirm an employee's identity and work eligibility, ensuring that they are legally authorized to work in the country. By completing this form, employers establish a record of the employee's eligibility to work, safeguarding against unauthorized employment and potential penalties.
Key Changes in the Revised Form I-9:
- Form Layout and Formatting: The revised Form I-9 has undergone improvements in its layout and formatting, making it more user-friendly for both employers and employees. These changes include formatting enhancements to Section 1, which is completed by the employee, as well as adjustments to provide clearer spacing for data entry. Sections 1 and 2 will now be located on one page, so business owners should be attentive to what section they’re filling in. Section 3: Reverification and Rehire will now be its own supplement.
- New Fields for Enhanced Communication: To foster improved communication between employers and employees, the revised form now includes two new fields: phone numbers and email addresses. These additions aim to facilitate contact information sharing and streamline communication during the employment process.
- Optional Social Security Number (SSN) Field: A notable change in the revised form is that the employee's Social Security Number (SSN) field is now optional, except when required by federal, state, or local laws or regulations. This modification protects employee privacy while ensuring compliance with applicable requirements. The employee’s SSN will still be required if the employee is participating in E-Verify.
- E-Verify Can be Used to Remotely Verify Identity: To remote review Form I-9 documents, the employer needs to be signed up for E-Verify and have an unmarred reputation. Clear and easily readable copies of all documents should be procured and retained. A new E-Verify “case” will need to be created if the employee is new to the team. Additionally, a live video-verification should be conducted during the verification process.
- Clarification of Instructions: The USCIS has taken steps to enhance the clarity of instructions provided alongside the revised Form I-9. These clearer instructions aim to minimize errors during the completion process and offer better guidance to employers and employees.
Employers who were already part of E-Verify and made cases for employees whose documents got virtually checked out between March 20, 2020, and July 31, 2023 have the option to try out this new virtual approval of citizenship documents – through August 30, 2023. However, if you weren't part of E-Verify during that COVID-19 flexibility period, you will need to wrap up an in-person document check by August 30, 2023.
The revised Form I-9 presents a significant step forward in streamlining the employment verification process and ensuring compliance with immigration laws. As a business owner, understanding and implementing the key changes introduced in the revised form are vital to maintaining a lawful and compliant workforce.