Changes to I-9 Form

The I-9 Form has changed. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has provided a list of FAQs, along with a 48-page handbook for employers, to ease the shift to the new form. When should you begin using the form? That’s not entirely clear. You should have begun using the new I-9 forms November 7, 2007, when they were issued. However, the USCIS provided a 30 day grace period which was to start upon notice in the Federal Register from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). But as of this post, the DHS hasn’t given notice. It’s believed that you currently need to complete this new version for new employees, or when you reverify current employees. The form is available here.

There are basically two areas of change. The first concerns the menu of supporting documents. Formerly, one could present one document from List A (establishing both identity and employment eligibility) or one document each from List B (identity) and List C (eligibility). It was then the employers responsibility to review the documents and certify that they appeared to be genuine and relate to the named employee. The revised List A now contains five additional documents that may be used to establish both identity and eligibility.

Another change is that employees don’t have to furnish their social security number if they don’t want to, unless the employer participates in the USCIS Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification Program (E-Verify).

The new 48 page Handbook for Employers: Instructions for Completing the Form I-9 was revised and became available on November 1, 2007.

Remember to keep your completed I-9 Forms in a separate location from employee files. Best practices dictate that you keep one binder for current employees, and one for former employees. That way if there is a surprise inspection, you do not have to pull your confidential employee files. It also makes it easier to follow up when it’s time to recertify.

I recall that when the I-9 was first introduced one had to “stretch” a bit in order to get sufficient documentation from employees. Back in the 1980’s, when the form was first introduced, many legitimate workers had insufficient identifying documentation. I remember virtually none had List A documents, and many had virtually none of the offerings on List B or C. Once I actually accepted a fishing license for the List B document. 🙂 Abiding by the strict letter of the law on those forms was less important than securing the employment of a qualified legal secretary in those go-go days. And frankly, there weren’t a whole lot of illegal immigrants trying to secure work as legal secretaries. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t recommend that lackadaisical attitude in today’s post-9/11 world.

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