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What You Need to Know about Pending I-9 Form Changes

In an effort to make the new hire process more user-friendly, the office of U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invited the public to provide input on a revised Form I-9. The current version of the form, which was revised in August 2009, will expire on August 31, 2012. Until this time, all businesses should continue to use the current version of this form.

During this lapse period, employers are wondering when to expect a new form and under what conditions. Based on our compliance team’s experience, a few scenarios are likely to occur:

  • The new Form I-9 will be issued before August 31, with a very short time window to comply.
  • No updated form will be released and the agency will declare that the existing form is valid until further notice.
  • The agency will not make a formal statement regarding the new Form I-9 and the form will not be updated. In this situation, business should continue to use the existing form until further notice.

Remember, the form must be used by all employers who hire at least one employee who will receive pay and/or benefits. Even if the employer is sure the new hire is a U.S. citizen, the form needs to be filed within the first three days of employment.

The USCIS website provides guidelines for special situations such as employing minors, foreign students or temporary non-immigrant workers. The site also lists topics pertaining to the Form I-9 including how to avoid errors, how to make corrections and what documents are accepted as proof of identification. Any changes made to the form will also be reflected in the E-verify online system, maintained by the Department of Homeland Security.

There has been increased attention on illegal employment and immigration enforcement, making the upcoming form changes more important than ever in terms of Homeland Security. In 2011 alone, Homeland Security Investigations made over 700 criminal arrests related to worksite enforcement investigations.