Form I-9 is a U.S. government document used to verify the identity and employment eligibility of individuals hired for work in the United States. Mandated by the Department of Homeland Security, employers are required to ensure that every hired employee, regardless of citizenship or immigrant status, completes this form. As part of ongoing refinements to the employment verification process, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced an updated Form I-9, required for use from November 1, 2023.
With the updated Form I-9 now available and in use, it’s important that employers familiarize themselves with the changes to ensure compliance with the updated requirements. This article breaks down the recent updates to Form I-9 and the implications these changes have for employers.
What is Form I-9 used for?
The primary purpose of Form I-9 is to ensure that all employees, citizens, and non-citizens hired for employment in the United States have the required authorization to work. To accomplish this, the form serves two main functions:
- Identity verification: Form I-9 requires employees to present documentation that verifies their identity to ensure they are who they claim to be.
- Employment Authorization Verification: Beyond confirming identity, Form I-9 is a tool to ensure that the employee has the legal right to work in the U.S., through either citizenship or appropriate visa status.
It’s worth noting that Form I-9 is not just a one-step exercise. Employers are required to keep the completed forms for either three years after the hire date or one year after the employment is terminated, whichever is later. This means that even after the hiring process is complete, employers must maintain these records and ensure that their employees’ authorization to work has not expired- especially for employees with temporary work authorization.
Updates to Form I-9
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The updated form, which became available on August 1, 2023, includes several changes, including:
Sections 1 and 2 have been condensed into a single sheet. Even though no fields were removed, some were merged for brevity.
Preparer/translator certification section
The Section 1 Preparer/Translator Certification has been moved to a separate section, dubbed Supplement A. If multiple preparers or translators are involved, employers can utilize this supplement, attaching additional ones if needed.
Reverification and rehire section
Section 3, titled “Reverification and Rehire,” has been shifted to a separate Supplement B for employers to utilize when needed, for rehiring or reverification purposes. This supplement offers four sections for initial and subsequent reverifications. Employers have the option to append more supplements if required.
The term “alien authorized to work” in Section 1 has been replaced with “noncitizen authorized to work.” The distinction between “noncitizen national” and “noncitizen authorized to work” has been clarified, enhancing the accuracy and inclusivity of the language.
Mobile device compatibility
Employers and employees can now complete the form on tablets and mobile devices through Adobe Acrobat.
Easier download and form fields
Some features of the form have been removed to facilitate a quicker download. Notably, the requirement to input ‘N/A’ in specific fields has been eliminated, speeding up the completion process.
Enhanced document guidance
The Lists of Acceptable Documents section has been refined to include details on permissible receipts, guidance, and links related to automatic extensions of employment authorization documentation.
Remote examination checkbox:
A new feature for E-Verify employers allows them to indicate when utilized alternative procedure and have remotely inspected I-9 documents.
Overview of changes to Form I-9 inshttps://workbright.com/guide-to-i-9-alternative-procedure/tructions:
- Shortened the document from 15 pages to 8 pages.
- Added key definitions for the Form I-9 process.
- Made steps clearer for each section of the form.
- Included a new checkbox for alternative procedure utilization.
- Moved abbreviation charts to the M-274.
What employers should know about the updated I-9
It’s important to know that the updated Form I-9 encompasses several changes, from a revised layout to introducing new fields. It’s crucial for businesses to transition to this updated form, not only to adapt to the newest best practices but also to ensure they remain compliant. Failure to use the latest version could lead to potential compliance issues or penalties.
Made available in 2023, there is now an alternative procedure available for certain employers to remotely examine Form I-9 documents, instead of the previous requirement of in-person examination. This alternative procedure is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Learn more about alternative procedure here.
It’s recommended that employers familiarize themselves with the form updates and ensure that their HR teams and hiring managers are equipped with the new version and trained accordingly.
How does this impact employers?
The updated I-9 introduces changes that have direct implications for employers. Here’s how the updates to the form and its processes might affect businesses:
- Compliance deadlines: Employers were given a specific window (until Oct. 31, 2023) to transition from the older version of Form I-9 to the new one. Failing to transition within the stipulated time frame might subject businesses to penalties.
- Operational adjustments: The revised layout, including the introduction of supplements like Supplement B for rehires and reverifications, means employers must adapt their internal processes. This could entail training HR or hiring teams and to ensure familiarity with the new structure and requirements.
- Digital accessibility: The enhanced compatibility with mobile devices and tablets provides greater flexibility. However, it also means employers need to ensure their teams have the right tools and platforms to utilize this feature effectively, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader app.
- Documentation and record-keeping: The new guidelines emphasize rigorous documentation and record-keeping, especially with the requirement to retain an employee’s Form I-9 for a specific period of employment. This may necessitate employers to revisit and possibly upgrade their document storage and retrieval systems.
- Inspection preparedness: Given the directive that I-9 forms should be readily available for inspections from various departments, employers need to maintain a system that allows for easy access and review.
- Penalty risks: The DHS has emphasized the potential financial and legal repercussions of noncompliance. Employers need to be diligent about using the updated form and the correct completion and retention measures.
What version to use?
Employers were given the option to start using the new edition beginning August 1, 2023. However, starting from November 1, 2023, only the new Form I-9 dated “08/01/2023” should be used. The version date can be found at the lower left corner of the form. It is important to note that a revised Spanish version of the Form I-9, dated “08/01/2023,” is available for use in Puerto Rico only.
The new Form I-9 brings significant changes and requirements for employers.
- Form I-9 is a U.S. government document used to verify the identity and employment eligibility of individuals hired for work in the United States.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has introduced a new and improved Form I-9 to streamline the verification process.
- Form I-9 serves two main functions: identity verification and employment authorization verification.
- Employers are required to keep completed Form I-9s for three years after the date of hire, or one year after employment termination- whichever is later.
- Starting from November 1, 2023, only the updated version of the form should be used.
- Employers must review the official USCIS guidelines and requirements to ensure compliance with the updated procedures for remote examination of Form I-9 documents.
- The updated form has implications for compliance deadlines, operational adjustments, digital accessibility, documentation and record-keeping, inspection preparedness, and penalty risks
If you’d like to see a 15-minute demo of the WorkBright platform showcasing the new 2023 Form I-9, reach out here.
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