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Revised I-9 Form Must Be Used For All New Hires Starting 1/22/2017

January 18, 2017

By: Melissa Calhoon Jones

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) has updated the I-9 form, which is used to verify the identity and work authorization of new hires.  This revised form (dated 11/14/2016) must be used for all new hires starting January 22, 2017.  A link to the new form and instructions for its use may be found here.  I-9 compliance is required for all U.S. employers with one or more employees.

As a reminder, the I-9 form is comprised of three sections.  The new hire must complete and sign the first section on the first day of hire.  The employer (or authorized representative) must complete the second section (verifying identity and work authorization documents provided by the employee) within three days of hire, unless the employee is being hired for three days or less, in which case section two must be completed on the first day of hire.  The third section is to be completed in the event of rehire or reverification in connection with expired or expiring employment authorization documents. 

The last page of the I-9 form lists the documents that are acceptable as evidence of an employee’s identity and work authorization.  Each employee is free to choose which documents to present; employers are prohibited from requiring employees to present specific documents.  Only original documents may be used for this purpose, and employers (or their authorized representatives) are required to physically examine the original documents presented.  If a document appears to be genuine and relates to the employee who has presented it, it may be accepted.  Employers are not required to research or verify the authenticity of the documents; however, the USCIS Handbook for Employers (Form M-274) provides examples of many of the acceptable documents, for comparison.  (The handbook may be accessed through the link provided above, and is helpful when reviewing a document for the first time.)

Unfortunately, despite a push from the USCIS to create a more user-friendly form, the I-9 form has grown more complex over time.  Employers should review the instructions for the revised version thoroughly before completing it for the first time, train staff or authorized representatives on any procedural changes, and ensure that staff or representatives are using the updated form for all new hires starting January 22, 2017.  Because of the complexity of this form, employers should periodically audit their I-9 forms to ensure that they are being properly completed. 

Melissa Calhoon Jones, chair of the Labor and Employment Group, counsels companies on employment, labor, and immigration issues.  For more information about I-9 processing, I-9 audits, and other employment concerns, please contact Ms. Jones at 410.752.9765 or via email.

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