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How the Form I-9 is Changing & When Employers Must Begin Using It

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced the availability of a revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Employers can use the revised form now; they can also continue using the current form through September 17, 2017. Beginning September 18, 2017, employers must use the revised form. 
 
Whether or not this administration follows through on their plan to add 10,000 ICE agents to the roster is irrelevant to the fact that businesses must follow the law on using the Form I-9. Employers must also continue following the current storage and retention rules for any previously completed Form I-9.
 
Revisions you’ll find in the Form I-9 instructions:
 
1. The name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices was changed to Immigrant and Employee Rights Section. The name change reflects an attempt to resolve confusion regarding another federal government agency with a similar name (and acronym). 
 
Although the name change seems minor, the agency’s purpose stands: to prevent discrimination during the hiring process based on the employee’s citizenship, national origin, or immigration status. Remember: I-9 compliance is not only about making sure the I-9 form is completed properly. Every employer needs to follow the anti-discrimination rules closely.
 
2. The wording “the end of” was removed from the phrase “the first day of employment.” This change to the Form I-9 timelines concerns I-9 document presentation requirements for individuals who are employed for less than 3 days. It also pertains to instructions describing when section 1 must be completed. The revision clarifies that section 1 must be completed “at the time of hire,” without any reference to the time of day. You might want to review your internal I-9 policies and procedures to ensure section 1 is completed no later than when the employee starts work for pay. 
 
Revisions you’ll find concerning the List of Acceptable Documents on Form I-9:
 
1. The Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) was added to List C. This form is issued to certain employees born overseas to a U.S. citizen parent. Employers completing Form I-9 on a computer can choose Form FS-240 from drop-down menus available in List C of Section 2 and Section 3. Plus, E-Verify users will be able to select Form FS-240 when they are creating a case for an employee who has presented this document for Form I-9. The FS-240 has actually been in use for quite a while, so this revision to Form I-9 will help employers who did not realize it was acceptable. 
 
2. The USCIS combined all the certifications of report of birth issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350 and Form FS-240) into selection C#2 in List C. The total number of separate List C document categories has therefore been reduced from 8 to 7. 
 
3. The USCIS renumbered all List C documents except the Social Security card. As an example, the employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security on List C has changed from List C #8 to List C #7. Although this revision isn’t substantial in isolation, if you have policy manuals in place referencing “List C #8,” for instance, you’ll need to revise accordingly.
 
The revisions may not be momentous, but keep in mind that you’ll need to decide when you will begin using the revised Form I-9 and update any policy and procedure documentation to reflect the revisions. Check the USCIS Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9 (M-274) for online guidance. Stay compliant with employee eligibility verification by following the newly announced revisions. 
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