As of November 7th, 2007, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) announced they are releasing to the public a revised I-9 form. The revisions will bring the I-9 form into compliance with immigration laws passed after the last substantive revisions were made to the form in 1991. The main revisions to the I-9 form include elimination from list A of “acceptable documents” (that prove both identity and employment authorization) documents that are either no longer issued by USCIS or that do not contain security features that would deter counterfeiting or fraudulent use.
Unlike the “rebranded” form that was released in 2005, the revised form will become mandatory once is it published in Federal Register, which is expected to occur within the next 30 days. Although the revised form was only released today, it bears a revision date of 06/05/2007. Employers and Employees hired after Federal Register Publication will be required to complete the revised I-9 form. Failure to use the revised I-9 form for persons hired after that date will subject the employer to liability for civil penalties and paperwork violation fines.
Only employees hired or rehired after the Federal Register publication date will need to complete the revised I-9 form. Do not ask current employees who have previously completed an I-9 form to now complete the revised form. Doing so will be considered “document abuse” under the Immigration Reform Control Act (IRCA) and will expose the employer to civil liability. The revised form is available on the USCIS website: http://www.uscis.gov and a pdf version of the form is attached to this Alert. USCIS has prepared a “Fact Sheet” on anticipated questions which is also attached to this Alert.
The revised form will also be available in Spanish but this is to be used as a translation guide for Spanish-speaking employees only. All U.S. employers (except those in Puerto Rico) are required to have every new employee complete and retain the English version of the revised I-9 form regardless of their English fluency.
Other changes to the form and its completion include instructions for electronically signing and storing the forms that became permissible in 2006. Additionally, employees completing Section 1 no longer have to provide their social security number in Part 1 unless the employer participates in the US Government’s E-Verify program. The E-verify program is a voluntary electronic document verification process employers may enroll in to confirm a new hire’s eligibility to work in the United States. Information on the E-verify program is available from the E-verify website.
There are advantages and disadvantages to enrolling in E-verify that affect each company differently. We recommend speaking with immigration counsel prior to enrolling in the E-verify program.
USCIS has also released an updated “Handbook for Employers” (M-274) which is now available for downloading from the USCIS website: www.uscis.gov. We will continue to monitor all USCIS developments regarding I-9 issues and will inform you of the mandatory usage date for the revised I-9 form when it is published in the Federal Register. Please call or email your contact on the MVA Immigration Team with any questions or concerns you may have.