The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will publish a new version of the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9). According to the USCIS, employers must verify their employees’ identity and work authorization using Form I-9. However, this announcement marks numerous changes to the form.
Accompanying this new version is another significant announcement from the agency. It has published the long-awaited final rule that amends the regulations. The USCIS will issue the new Form I-9 on August 1, 2023.
The agency also allowed the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to introduce alternative I-9 verification methods. Typically, employers must conduct in-person verifications. However, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced temporary remote flexibilities for verifying Form I-9s, which led to this decision.
The newly authorized alternative allows employers to verify their new hire’s documentation via a live video feed. They may take this step after the employee submits their identifying documentation. As a reminder, this process becomes available after August 1, 2023. In addition, only employers in good standing and participating in E-Verify may use this alternative process.
Among the most significant changes to the updated Form I-9 is the checkbox indicating the employer did not use an in-person review. This step allows employers to show that they used a DHS-approved alternative procedure. Additional changes include:
- Reduced Length: Sections 1 and 2 have merged multiple fields to fit on a single sheet.
- Simplified Instructions: The 16-page instructions for completing Form I-9 will condense to 8 pages.
- Additional Guidance on Avoiding Discrimination: USCIS has added a notice explaining how to avoid discrimination during the employment eligibility verification.
- Supplement A and B are Now Standalone Documents: Supplement A for Preparer and/or Translator Certification and Supplement B for Reverification and Rehire have become standalone documents employers can print out and use as needed.
- Increased Compatibility: If filled out electronically, the new form will become compatible with more electronic devices, such as mobile devices.
This new version of Form I-9 will become available beginning August 1, 2023. However, employers may continue using the existing form until October 31, 2023. Based on the changes, the new form should prove more user-friendly, allowing employers and employees to fill it out on tablets or mobile devices quickly. It also explains when specific employment authorization documents may receive automatic extensions.
Many companies and agencies, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, welcome these changes. According to the Vice President of Immigration Policy, Jon Baselice, “[It] will make the process of onboarding and retaining talent much more efficient and will drive down their costs associated with performing these functions.”