Effective March 8, 2013, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued a revised Employment Eligibility and Verification, Form I-9 for all employers. The form is used to help establish an employee’s legal eligibility to work in the U.S. All employers are required to have a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment, including both noncitizens and citizens. While the new form became effective on March 8th, the government has given all employers a grace period of 60 days or until May 7, 2013, to begin using the form. However, employers may also begin using the form for all new hires and re-verifications of employment in the U.S. now. Revised forms in both English and Spanish are available online at www.uscis.gov.
The revised Form I-9 has a new format. The new format includes new fields and instructions for both employees and employers. There is now a field for the employee’s foreign passport information (if applicable), telephone number and email address. The primary improvement of the form includes detailed instructions and a revised layout that expands the form from one to two pages, not including the instructions.
Employers must not complete a new form all existing employees, if a properly completed Form I-9 is already on file. However, properly completing the Form I-9 for new hires and re-verifications of employment provides employers with a good faith defense to a charge that they are knowingly hiring or employing unauthorized workers. Forms for all current employees on a company’s payroll must be made available for inspection by authorized U.S. government officials who are eligible to do so. Authorized officials from government entities include the Departments of Labor, Justice and Homeland Security.
Form I-9s should not be kept in an employees’ personnel file. Employers should keep them in a separate file or notebook on their own for all employees. Employers must retain and store each employee’s form either for three years after the employee’s date of hire or for one year after his/her employment has terminated.
The USCIS has also revised their “Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing the Form I-9,” which provides practical guidance related to completing the form. The revised handbook may also be found at www.uscis.gov.
For additional information on the Form I-9, please contact New Focus HR, LLC.
Written By: Kristen Shingleton, M.B.A., CCP
President, New Focus HR LLC