United States: New Form I-9 for Employment Eligibility Verification

United States: New Form I-9 for Employment Eligibility Verification

From May 1st 2020, employers must use the new Form I-9 for employee’s eligibility verification in the United States. It is also accompanied by an updated version of the Handbook for Employers M-274 providing guidance on the accurate completion of the Form I-9.

What has changed?

Employers in the United States are obliged to complete the Form I-9 for each individual they hire. This is applicable to both US nationals and foreign nationals and requests the attestation of the individual’s employment authorization and proof of personal identity. Documents must be examined to ensure they are genuine, related to the individual and accurately recorded on the Form I-9. The Form I-9 is then retained by the employers and be made available for inspection if audited by the US authorities.

Employers are reminded that from May 1st 2020, they must use the new version of the Form I-9. In order to avoid sanctions from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Form I-9 audits, employers should ensure they use the correct version of the document and accurately complete and retain them. The updated version of the Handbook for Employers M-274 will enable employers to ensure they accurately complete the document.

Changes include specific guidance on scenarios such as the automatic extension of the USCIS employment authorization document (EAD) for foreign workers and the need for completion of the I-9 in a remote work environment due to COVID-19 restrictions. The updated Handbook advises that an authorized representative may be designated to complete, update or correct sections 2 or 3 of the I-9 on the employer’s behalf. While this is particularly useful during the pandemic COVID-19 as it enables the completion of the document for employees working remotely, employers should still be mindful that they are ultimately liable for any errors or non-compliance through failure to have the form correctly completed and retained.

Who is affected?

All employers within the United States of America.

What to expect / impact?

Employers should ensure they have implemented the correct hiring practices and training of their personnel on completion of the I-9 to ensure compliance if audited. Internal audits are also recommended to ensure employers self-verify their compliance prior to any ICE audit.

For further information on the I-9 form in the US, please contact the Sterling Lexicon immigration team at immigration@sterlinglexicon.com. 

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Leanne Cottrell
Leanne Cottrell

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