Effective 8/1/2023, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), released a new version of the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. The following changes were made to the updated version:
- Sections 1 and 2 were reduced to a single page from two pages on the previous form.
- Section 1, Preparer and/or Translator Certifications moves to a separate, standalone supplement that employers may provide to employees, when needed.
- Section 3, Reverification and Rehire, moves to a standalone supplement that employers may print out, when needed.
- The List of Acceptable Documents page has been revised to include some acceptable receipts, as well as guidance and links to information on automatic extensions of employment authorization documentation.
- The form’s instructions were reduced to eight pages from 15 pages.
- A checkbox now appears allowing employers to indicate that they have examined Form I-9 documentation remotely under a newly authorized virtual procedure rather than via physical examination (further explained later in this article). This process is referred to in this document as an “alternative” procedure.
Employers may begin using the form effective 8/1/2023. However, must begin to use the form no later than 11/1/2023. The old form dated, 10/19/2019, may continue to be used through 10/31/2023, and the latest version date may be found in the lower-left corner of the form. Beginning 11/1/2023, only the new Form I-9 dated 8/01/2023, may be used. A revised Spanish Form I-9 dated 8/01/2023 is available for use in Puerto Rico only. Updated forms and instructions on how to complete the forms may be found at www.uscis.gov/i-9.
One of the newest changes to the Form I-9 includes the use of a checkbox, allowing employers enrolled in E-Verify to indicate they have virtually examined identity and employment authorization documents, instead of reviewing the same documents in person, also referred to as an alternative procedure. Employers who have enrolled in E-Verify at www.e-verify.gov and who are in good standing, may utilize an alternative procedure by examining and retaining clear and legible copies of all documents (both front and back), conducting a live video interaction with the employee during the verification process, and creating an E-Verify case if the employee is a new hire.
USCIS defines an employer in good standing with E-Verify as follows:
- Have had enrolled in E-Verify for all hiring sites that use the alternative procedure.
- Be in compliance with all E-Verify program requirements, including verifying the employment eligibility of newly hired employees.
- Continue to be a participant in good standing in E-Verify at any time the employer uses remote verification.
Employers who were enrolled and participating in E-Verify and created cases for employees whose documents were examined virtually between 3/20/2020, and 7/31/2023, may elect to use the new alternative procedure to satisfy the physical document examination requirement by 8/30/2023. However, employers who were not enrolled in E-Verify during the COVID-19 flexibilities time frame must complete an in-person physical examination by 8/30/2023.
If an employer uses remote verification of documentation, it must be consistently offered to all employees at a hiring site, with only two exceptions. Remote verification may be used only for remote employees and hybrid employees may be required to have an in-person physical verification. In addition, if an employee prefers an in-person physical meeting that must be allowed by the employer. During a live video interaction with a new hire, the employer must watch the employee complete Section 1 of the Form I-9, who then uploads and sends the form to the employer. Then the employee must hold up the original employment verification document(s) to the camera, both front and back, and the employer inspects the documentation. The employer then checks the box stating that it used the alternative procedure for the completion of Section 2, or for reverification. As stated previously, employers are required to retain clear and legible documentation of all documents presented in the Form I-9 documentation process if they use remote verification. This will also mean more document retention on the E-Verify platform than employers have had in the past. To reiterate, employers who do not use the E-Verify platform may not engage in the alternative process, or remote verification of documentation.
Employers should also note that the M-274 Handbook for Employers (www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/form-i-9-resources/handbook-for-employers-m-274) has also gone through a major overhaul with the inception of the new Form I-9. Employers are encouraged to download the form and refer to it when they have questions with regards to how to legally complete the Form I-9, so as to avoid possible violations and penalties.
For additional information on the new Form I-9 and its procedures, please contact us at www.NewFocusHR.com.
Written by: Kristen Deutsch, M.B.A., CCP
Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website at www.uscis.gov/i-9-central