In July of this year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced a new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The new version of Form I-9 is meant to streamline the employment eligibility verification for both the employer and the employee. As of November 1, 2023, all employers are required to start using the updated Form I-9, Employment Verification Eligibility for all new hires.
The New I-9 is Different
The new Form I-9, with a version date of “(Rev. 8/01/23)” includes several updates:
— Sections 1 and 2 have been reduced to a single-sided sheet.
— The “Preparer/Translator Certification” which was previously in section 1 is now a separate, standalone document (“Supplement A”) that can be provided by the employer when necessary.
— The “Reverification and Rehire” section has been removed from section 3 and is now a standalone document (“Supplement B”) that employers can use when a rehire occurs or a re-verification is required.
— The “Lists of Acceptable Documents” 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 is now fillable electronically on computers, tablets, and mobile devices, and has been edited to ensure that the form can be easily downloaded.
In addition to the changes listed above, the UCSIS also updated the instructions for the Form I-9, such as reducing the length of the instructions from 15 pages to 8 pages and streamlining the steps each actor takes to complete their section of the form.
Virtual Inspection of Documents
Perhaps the most notable change, and one anticipated by many employers, is the addition of a new checkbox for employers who chose to examine an employee’s Form I-9 documentation under an “alternative procedure authorized by DHS.” This new feature allows eligible employers to examine documents virtually. This is a significant change to the Form I-9.
Previously, employers were required to inspect employee documents in person. Although there was an exception granted to this requirement during the pandemic, that exception expired on July 31, 2023. After the expiration of that exception, all employers were required to re-verify in person those documents they had previously verified virtually, within 30 days of the expiration. This created several issues since so many businesses now have remote workers located all over the country.
The new Form I-9 now allows for virtual inspection of documents if the employer is registered with E-Verify. E-Verify is an internet-based system that takes the Form I-9 information entered by an employer and compares it to records available to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to confirm employment eligibility. An employer must first enroll in E-Verify before using it for employee I-9s. Enrolling in E-Verify is free to employers, and E-Verify also offers free webinars related to the services they provide.
What Should Employers Do Now?
The updated form I-9 finally brings the employment verification process into the 21st century. Previously, employers had to print the form, have the employee fill out their section manually, then physically inspect the employee’s document(s), and complete the form manually. Now, the process has been streamlined, and can be completed electronically. With the option of virtual inspection of documents and electronic verification of those documents, the updated Form I-9 has made the administrative issues of employing remote workers a lot easier.