Employers Now Required to Use Revised Form I-9 When Verifying Employment Eligibility

Date: May 22, 2013

On March 8, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) published a revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9, which contains some slight modifications to the familiar form used by employers when verifying the eligibility of newly hired employees to work in the United States.  While employers were given a sixty-day grace period to begin using the revised form, as of May 7, 2013, the failure to use the revised form will subject an employer to statutory penalties.  This article examines the revisions made to Form I-9. 

Employers have long been required to complete U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-9 upon hiring any new employee.  Completion of the form requires the employer to review identification documents in order to confirm that the individual being hired is eligible for employment in the United States.  On March 8, 2013, the USCIS issued a revised version of Form I-9 which must be used by employers in lieu of the existing version of the I-9. 

The most visible aspect of the revision is that Form I-9 has been expanded from one to two pages.  The instructions published in conjunction with the form have also been significantly expanded.  Section One of the form, which is to be completed by the employee, has been revised to include additional fields, such as for the employee's telephone number and email address.  The remaining substantive content of Form I-9 remains unchanged, as does the list of acceptable documents that may be used to verify employment eligibility. 

Takeaway for Employers:  Although the revisions to the Form I-9 are relatively minor, use of the revised form became mandatory as of May 7, 2013.  Failure to use the new version of the form will be treated by USCIS as a failure of compliance, exposing employers to a range of civil, and potentially criminal, penalties.  Employers can obtain the revised I-9 form at the USCIS website.  In viewing any Form I-9, an employer should look for the publication date in the lower left-hand corner of the form.  The new Form I-9 has a publication date of March 8, 2013. 

Employers should take note that there is no requirement that the revised Form I-9 be completed by current employees for whom a properly completed Form I-9 is already on file, unless an event occurs which necessitates re-verification under the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  To the contrary, an unnecessary verification can expose an employer to liability under the Act's antidiscrimination provisions.