Form I-9 Is Changing; Comments Requested By May 31

Every employer that’s ever hired anyone has had to deal with Form I-9. Recently, a federal agency proposed several notable changes to this critical piece of documentation.

Form I-9, “Employment Eligibility Verification,” is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. As you’re no doubt aware, all U.S. employers must properly complete a Form I-9 for everyone hired, including citizens and noncitizens. Both employees and employers (or authorized representatives of an employer) need to fill out portions of the form.


On March 30, 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a notice in the Federal Register to invite public comments on its proposed extension and revisions to Form I-9. Here’s what employers should know about this important development.


Purpose and responsibilities


As mentioned, the purpose of Form I-9 is to document the “employment authorization” of new hires — that is, employees must verify that they’re legally eligible to work in the United States. Each employee needs to present acceptable documents proving their identity and employment authorization.


In turn, employers must examine the employment eligibility and identity documents to determine whether they reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the employee in question. Lists of acceptable documents can be found on the last page of the form.


Employers also need to record the documented information on Forms I-9, retain the forms for a designated period and provide the forms for inspection by authorized government officers upon request.


Current version


The most recent version of Form I-9 was issued on October 21, 2019. This current version is set to expire on October 31, 2022.


A notice from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stated that the current version contained only minor changes to the previous form and instructions. The USCIS instructed employers to begin using the current Form I-9 as of January 31, 2020. However, the agency provided employers with additional time — until April 30, 2020 — to make necessary updates and adjust their business processes.


Proposed changes


The USCIS noted the following changes being proposed by the DHS for the extended Form I-9:


  • Compress Sections 1 and 2 from two pages to one page to reduce paper use and storage burden on employers.
  • Update the lists of acceptable documents to include a link to “List C” documents issued by the DHS and acceptable receipts as listed in federal regulations.
  • Reduce and simplify the instructions from 15 pages to seven pages, further reducing paper use.
  • Remove electronic PDF enhancements to ensure that the form can be completed on all electronic devices and isn’t software dependent.
  • Change Section 3 to a “Reverification and Rehire Supplement” that provides three separate areas to enter reverifications and rehires within three years of the date of the initial execution of an employee’s Form I-9. Employers would print and use the supplement only as needed, further reducing paper use and storage burden.


© 2022


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