By MELISSA CROCKETT MESKE
A new version of the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 was rolled out on Aug. 1, 2023 by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for implementation by employers.
And while the former version, dated 10/19/2019, can continue to be used for a short time longer, this newer version of the I-9 Form will be the only one accepted starting November 1.
Employers can find their version’s date by looking at the lower left corner of the form they have in their files.
“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,” said Emily Dickens, SHRM’s chief of staff, head of public affairs and corporate secretary, in a story published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on Aug. 1.
“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,” Dickens further noted.
The recently released version contains changes to the form and instructions, including shortening the Form I‑9 itself to one page, and reducing the instructions to eight pages.
Other changes to the form that employers will see when completing the I-9 with their new hires include:
- The removed use of “alien authorized to work” in Section 1, replacing it with “noncitizen authorized to work” and clarified the difference between “noncitizen national” and “noncitizen authorized to work.”
- Ensured the form can be filled out on tablets and mobile devices by downloading onto the device and opening in the free Adobe Acrobat Reader app.
- Removed certain features to ensure the form can be downloaded easily. This also removes the requirement to enter N/A in certain fields.
- Improved guidance to the Lists of Acceptable Documents to include some acceptable receipts, guidance, and links to information on automatic extensions of employment authorization documentation.
- Added a checkbox for E-Verify employers to indicate when they have remotely examined Form I-9 documents.
While the number of pages in the Form I-9 Instructions have been cut nearly in half from the former 15, definitions have been added in to identify each “key actor” more clearly in the process and what steps they are required to take in completing their section of the form.
Another added convenience comes with the rollout of this new I-9 form as well. As of August 1, employers are allowed to continue remotely examining an employee’s Form I-9 documentation, including supporting documents, but only if the employer is enrolled in E-Verify. This was a practice first implemented by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) out of necessity in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
If an employer participates in E-Verify and is in good standing within its system, they are qualified to remotely examine new employee I-9 documentation using a DHS-authorized alternative procedure. If implemented, this must be done consistently for all employees at your hiring site.
Remote examination includes examining the I-9 Form documents, ensuring review of both the front and back of any two-sided supporting documentation. Employers should follow this with a live video interaction with the individual presenting the document(s) to ensure that the documentation reasonably appears to be genuine and relates to the individual.
The new employee must first transmit a copy of the required documentation to the employer and present the same documentation during the live video interaction. The employer must also retain a clear and legible copy of all I-9 Form verification and documentation, including the front and back of any documentation that is two-sided, for as long as the employee works for them, plus a specified period after their employment has ended.
An employer may opt to use this remote alternative procedure only for new hires who work remotely, and continue to use physical, in-person examination procedures for documentation with all employees who work onsite or in a hybrid capacity where they are coming onsite periodically.
Employers must be careful not to adopt an I-9 remote examination practice for any discriminatory purpose, even if done inadvertently. Employers need to remain cognizant of any potential for differential treatment of employees based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin, that might arise from deciding that certain employees are not eligible for remote examination of their documentation.
If an employer needs more information about E-Verify, including finding out if they’re enrolled or what it takes to become so if not, visit https://www.e-verify.gov/employers/enrolling-in-e-verify.
To enroll in E-Verify, be sure to have your company’s complete information in hand and ready to enter.
The data you’ll need to be able to provide for E-Verify enrollment includes the company’s legal name, FEIN, primary physical address from which your company will access E-Verify, the mailing address if different from the physical address, hiring sites participating in E-Verify in each state, total number of current employees, your company’s NAICS code, and contact information for your company’s MOU signatory and program administrator.
Federal contractors are further subject to the FAR E-Verify Clause and will need to provide their UEI (Unique Entity Identifier).
All U.S. employers must properly complete Form I-9 for everyone they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens. Both employees and employers (or authorized representatives of the employer) must complete the form.
Required use and completion of an I-9 between employers and their employees in the United States came out of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).
IRCA prohibits employers from hiring and employing an individual for employment in the United States knowing that the individual is not authorized with respect to such employment. Employers also are prohibited from continuing to employ an individual knowing that he or she is unauthorized for employment.
The law also prohibits employers from hiring individuals, including United States citizens, for employment without verifying his or her identity and employment authorization on Form I-9.
Employers can access the new I-9 Form, required for use starting Nov. 1, 2023 and replacing all previous versions used with new employees, by visiting online at https://www.uscis.gov/i-9.
A condensed version of this story also appears in the September 2023 print edition of the Illinois Business Journal.