United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new version of the Form I-9 today, March 8, 2013. http://tinyurl.com/c96fsr The Form I-9 is required to be used by employers to verify the identity and employment eligibility of new hires.
When is it effective? March 8, 2013. Yes, employers hiring today should use it, but there is a grace period until May 7, 2013. As usual, the Spanish version of the form is to be used only in Puerto Rico.
Is there a grace period to start using the new form? Yes, employers may continue to use the following versions UNTIL MAY 7, 2013 - (Rev. 02/02/09)N and (Rev/ 08/07/09)Y. The revision date of the Form I-9 is printed on the lower left corner of the form. Employers should NOT complete a new Form I-9 for current employees if a properly completed I-9 is already on file.
What about the M-274 Handbook for Employers? Well, it would be nice, if it were available as well today, but it is still being revised. I-9 Central indicates that it will be released next week. So…. use the new form with caution.
What are some changes?
• The form is now two pages.
• Section 1 of the form provides “optional” information for completion by the employee (i.e. e-mail address and telephone number). If the employee chooses not to provide the information, they may indicate “N/A” in those sections.
• In section 1, if the employee indicates that they are authorized to work, the Form I-9 gives an option to provide either their ANumber/USCIS Number OR Form I-94 Admission Number. The instructions on the form, however, appear to indicate that this choice is really not one. The instructions state that if the applicant has an ANumber/USCIS Number, they are supposed to enter that information. If they do not, then they may use the admission number. If the admission number was issued by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), then the employee must also provide their foreign passport number and country of issuance. If the admission number though was issued by USCIS, then they may enter “N/A” in the blanks for foreign passport number and country of issuance. These changes herald the expected transition by CBP away from the use of a paper I-94 admission document.
• The major change in the list of acceptable documents is to clarify that for List C purposes, an employer should not accept a social security card with any of the following restrictions: Not Valid for Employment, Valid for Work Only with INS Authorization, or Valid for Work only with DHS Authorization.
The instructions also provide guidance in many areas. Some initial examples are:
• Temporary staffing agencies may enter the first day the employee was placed in the job pool to complete the date of employment blank in Section 2 .
• If employers elect to make copies of support documents presented for Form I-9 completion, they must be retained and presented with the Form I-9 in case of an inspection by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or other federal government agency.
• The person who examines the Form I-9 support documents presented to the employer must be the same person who signs Section 2. In addition, the examiner of the documents for the employer and the employee must both be “physically present during the examination of the employee’s documents.” This point further underscores the requirement that a tactile examination of the original documents be conducted and the employee must be physically present that time.
The changes to the form instructions have resulted in three additional pages. Please remember that the employee must have access to the instructions during the I-9 completion process. We will see what further guidance USCIS will provide on the Form next week in the M-274. The current M-274 takes 65 pages to address the previous one page Form I-9. Any thoughts on what an additional page will take in explanation?