The completion of a Form I-9 (Form) by an employer and their new hire is a requirement of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. It is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the U.S. All U.S. employers and their new hires must complete the form. This includes citizen and noncitizen employees. The Form is not filed with any government agency, but employers must retain a completed form for each employee on their payroll for three years from their hire date, or one year after their termination, which ever is later, and make the forms available for audit by the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, or Department of Justice.
On January 31, 2020, a revised Form was released by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Form is dated 10/21/2019 and has an expiration date of 10/31/2022. From January 31, 2020 until April 30, 2020, employers could choose to use the previous edition dated 7/17/2017 or the new edition dated 10/21/2019. Starting May 1, 2020, employers must use the latest, revised Form, which can be found on the USCIS website. The Form can be completed as a paper document or a fillable, electronic document. The Form is available in Spanish which can only be completed by employers in Puerto Rico. Employers and new hires in the 50 states and U.S. Territories can use the Spanish version for reference but they must complete and retain the English version. If an employer fails to use the revised Form after May 1, 2020, it is a violation of Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act and could result in civil and/or criminal penalties.
Key updates to the paper and fillable Form include:
- The fillable Form has corrected the names of two countries (Eswatini and North Macedonia) in the Country of Issuance field in Section 1 and the Issuing Authority field for a foreign passport in Section 2.
- Employers can designate anyone to be an authorized representative to complete Section 2. An employer is liable for violations committed by the designated person in completing the form.
- Employers are no longer required to write N/A into the acceptable documents section if an employee provides certain identification that makes the other columns unnecessary (i.e. a new hire provides a passport as identification).
- Clarification about documents in the “Lists of Acceptable Documents” for Section 2. For example, an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766) from “List A” is not that same as the “List C” Employment Authorization Document issued by the Department of Homeland Security. Also a List B driver’s license is not the same as a “List B” “ID card issued by federal, state, or local government agencies or entities, provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color and address.”
Also USCIS updated the M-274, Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9. The Handbook includes a chapter on the summary of changes for the Handbook and Form I-9.
So as your business welcomes new hires and completes the Form I-9, be sure to check the date on the lower left-hand corner of the Form and make sure that it says 10/21/2019.