For the second time in less than a year, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has revised the Form I-9. The latest version of the form was released on July 17, and has a footer reading “07/17/17 N.” Its use will become mandatory as of September 18, 2017. Between now and then, employers may continue to use the old “11/14/16 N” version or switch over to the new version at their convenience.
The new Form I-9 is largely the same as the old one, but careful readers will notice the following wordsmithing changes in the instructions:
1. The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices has been renamed the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.
2. The required timing for initiating the Form I-9 is now described as “no later than the first day of employment” rather than “no later than the end of the first day of employment.”
The more significant changes pertain to the List of Acceptable Documents, which has been re-organized. One new document – Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) – has been added to List C. As always, employees are entitled to choose which documents they will present to establish their employment eligibility, so make sure they have access to the updated List of Acceptable Documents when completing the Form I-9. And yes, the E-Verify system has been updated so that users can select Form FS-240 when creating a case for an employee who presented that document during the Form I-9 process.
We’ve said it before, but it is important to note that you do NOT need to ask employees who completed a previous version of the Form I-9 to fill out the new version. The existing storage and retention rules continue to apply for all previously completed forms. Just make sure that by September 18, 2017, you are using the new version for all new hires (and re-verifications).
Given the Trump Administration’s emphasis on undocumented immigrants, we anticipate an increased number of audits and other enforcement actions. Complete and correct Forms I-9 are your first line of defense. If you suspect that your onboarding processes need some work or want to confirm that they are shipshape, you may want to arrange for an internal audit or consult with counsel.