We have a new Form I-9

logoThe U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a new “Employment Eligibility Verification Form,” i.e., the so-called I-9 Form. The old one nominally expired last year, and the new one is now valid through March 31, 2016.

Unfortunately, the form has grown considerably in size – the instructions have gone from 3 pages to 6 and the portion you and your new employee have to fill our has gone from 1 page to two. On the other had, the online PDF can be filled out in your browser using drop-down menus and then printed out.

Here’s a link to the download page for the new form. You should start using the new form immediately, and Town + Country is providing the new form to clients in our printed materials, but you may legally use the old form through May 6th, 2013.

What is Form I-9? The timely & accurate completion of this form satisfies an employer’s obligation to ensure that they have hired a person legally authorized to work in this country. For context, as an employer, you should remember that you are not allowed to discriminate based on, among other things, national origin in making employment decisions. This means that you should complete the same background checks and same employment verification procedures for each new hire, regardless of what you believe their citizenship status or country of origin might be. You should not, for instance, use E-Verify (if you have access to that service) only for some employees but not for all. Your process for completing the I-9 for each employee should also be the same.

What are the basics of completing the I-9? Here are the highlights. You should read the I-9 instructions, of course.

  • Your new employee should complete Section 1 no later than their first day of employment, but never before they have accepted your job offer. You have to complete Section 2 no later than the third day after they start.
  • Section 2 involves confirming the documents your employee has shown you to show their authorization to work. You should physically examine each document “to determine if it reasonably appears to be genuine and to relate to the person presenting it.” If you have physically examined them and they are reasonable, you are not liable for being unable to detect forged or falsified documents.
  • Documents that expire (like passports and driver licenses) may not be expired. That is, they must be presented before they have expired. This does not apply to documents that do not expire, like birth certificates.
  • Acceptable documents are listed on the last page of the form. Your employee has to present ONE of the documents from List A, or (i) one document from List B, plus (ii) one document from List C. Your employee is entitled to present any of the required documents. That is, you may not specify which ones you want them to present.
  • You are allowed to photocopy the documents presented, and it is a good idea to do so. You are not required to do so, but if you make it part of your process, be sure to do it for each new hire.
  • After you and your employee have completed the form and you have signed it, you must keep it on file for at least (i) three years from the date of hire, or (ii) one year from the last day of employment, whichever is later. The Department of Homeland Security may audit your I-9 forms and procedures.

As always, we’re happy to answer any questions you might have. We’re here to help!