New I-9 form means good time to review your hiring process

By Charlie Plumb

New-Form-I-9On March 8, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) released an updated version of the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form. While the new I-9 form is effective immediately, employers have a 60-day grace period – until May 7, 2013 – to continue to use the prior version. You can find the updated Form I-9 (Rev. 03/08/13), together with more comprehensive instructions for completion, at USCIS’s I-9 Central.

While the changes to the new form are relatively minor – the form is now two pages long and includes additional fields for email address, phone number and foreign passport information – the USCIS issuance of a new I-9 form is a good time for employers to review their hiring process and make sure they are complying with the law.

Employers are responsible for accurately completing and retaining I-9 forms. The form has two primary sections. Section 1 must be completed by the employee. The employee attests that they are eligible to work in the United States and fall into one of four employment eligible classifications. Section II is completed by the employer. Section II is completed only after the employer has personally examined documents specifically listed on the I-9 material, which establishes an individual’s eligibility to work in the United States. In examining documents, the employer must determine the information identifies the employee who is presenting the documents. The documents must be original and reasonably appear to be genuine. The employer’s examination should also confirm the documents offered by the employee to support their eligibility to work in the United States have not expired.

Recordkeeping – When to request and how long to keep

An employer may only require an individual to complete an I-9 form after they have accepted a job offer. Employers’ examination of documents and completion of the I-9 form must be accomplished within three (3) business days of the first day the employee begins working. Form I-9s should be retained by the employer for a period of three (3) years after an individual has been hired, or one (1) year after their employment has ended – whichever is later.

With an increase in governmental audits of employers and I-9 form compliance, make sure you are using the new I-9 form. This is also a good opportunity to review your hiring process, personnel records, and see if you are complying with the law.