USCIS Form I-9 – What’s it about?
Federal law prohibits employers from hiring or continuing to employ an individual knowing that the individual is not authorized to work in the U.S. Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) was developed to facilitate compliance with the law. Employers are required to verify the identity and employment authorization for each person they hire and complete and maintain for inspection a Form I-9 for each individual they hire, including U.S. citizens.
Which Form I-9 should I use?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides a Portable Document Format (.pdf) fillable-printable Form I-9 on its website. Alternatively, employers may re-create a paper or electronic Form I-9 that looks the same and contains all the data elements and language as the Form I-9 posted to the USCIS website. Employers can also find electronic versions of Form 1-9 on the web and from third party vendors.
With so many forms in circulation, one of the first questions employers may have is, “Which Form I-9 should I use?” Employers must be careful to use only the current Form I-9. Several older versions of Form I-9 still linger on the internet. Employers can determine whether they are using the correct version of Form I-9 by looking at the revision date printed on the bottom left corner of the form, and not the expiration date printed at the top of the form. Currently, only the Form I-9 showing the following revision date is valid: Rev. 07/17/2017 N. The current Form I-9 continues to be valid until superseded by a Form I-9 with a newer revision date containing the letter “N”.
Form I-9’s “expiration” date may lead to some confusion. Currently, Form 1-9 shows an expiration date of August 31, 2019, as noted in the top of the form. Last month, the USCIS published a Notice in the Federal Register proposing an extension, without change, of Form I-9 before it expires on August 31, 2019. The final rule confirming the extension is expected to be announced this summer. While it is unclear whether the USCIS will give Form I-9 a new expiration date at that time, employers may continue to use the current Form I-9 even after the expiration date at the top of the current form, until a newer revision is available.
Where can I get help in completing Form I-9?
Employers are likely to have many more questions about completing Form I-9 and verifying an individual’s work authorization. The USCIS’ I-9 Central assists employers in completing the Form I-9. I-9 Central includes step-by-step instructions for completing the form and information on acceptable documents for establishing identity and employment authorization. The website highlights some common mistakes employees and employers make completing the form, how to avoid them and how to make corrections. The website also features an extensive Q & A section where employers can find detailed answers about the Form I-9’s fill-in information, acceptable forms of documentation, storing employees’ Form I-9s and electronic Form 9 applications. There is also electronic Handbook for Employers and a handy Form 1-9 desktop widget employers can use to easily access an online, fillable Form I-9.
Completing Form I-9 can be tricky but an employer’s detailed attention to the I-9 verification process is imperative. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HIS) “is currently carrying out its commitment to increase the number of I-9 audits in an effort to create a culture of compliance among employers,” HSI’s Executive Associate Director, Derek N. Benner said last year. He explained, “employers need to understand that the integrity of their employment records is just as important to the federal government as the integrity of their tax files and banking records. All industries, regardless of size, location and type are expected to comply with the law.”