Subsequent to October 31, 2023, the previous version of Form I-9 will be obsolete and no longer valid for use. The Form I-9 process is managed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the new I-9 form and instructions are available on the USCIS website now. The updated I-9 form has what the Department of Homeland Security refers to as “formatting improvements,” but otherwise most, if not all, of the information that must be completed and reviewed has not changed from the previous version.
Here is an update on the upcoming discard date for the previous Form I-9 and provides guidance on related employment matters:
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) prohibits employers from knowingly hiring “unauthorized alien[s]” and from hiring any individual without complying with the employment eligibility verification process. The employment eligibility verification process begins with completion of the I-9 form. The I-9 form contains a part for the employee to complete and a list of acceptable documents and identification cards that the employee may produce to allow the employer to verify the employee’s eligibility to work in the United States. There is also a section of the I-9 form that must be completed by the employer.
Purpose of I-9 Form
The I-9 form is intended to help the employer and the employee in the process of verifying employee’s eligibility to work, or be employed, in the United States. Once acceptable documentation is obtained from the employee and is checked by the employer (employers should be careful to check both sides of all documents presented) the employer can use the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify service, which is an online tool that can be used by the employer to enter information from the employee’s documentation or identification and compare the information submitted by the employee to the information of the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.
Verification with E-Verify
E-Verify is a free service available to employers in the United States, but employers must enroll in it to use it. More information about E-Verify can be found at https://www.e-verify.gov.
Another benefit to employers who are enrolled in E-Verify is that they may use the Department of Homeland Security’s procedure for remote verification of the employee’s eligibility documents. The updated Form I-9 includes a checkbox employers enrolled in E-Verify can use to indicate that they remotely examined identity and employment authorization documents under the alternative procedure authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). More information about the remote verification of documents process is available on the USCIS website.
Resources for Schools
The USCIS provides instructions in PDF format which can be printed, for completing Form I-9, as well as a downloadable and a PDF version of the updated Form I-9. Schools should be sure to check the bottom of the I-9 form to be sure that it was last updated as of August 1, 2023.
Additionally, schools may find it helpful to refer to the Handbook for Employers which is also available on the USCIS website, when they are using the I-9 form for new employees and rehires.
Human Resources and other Administrators involved in handling the onboarding of new employees must ensure that employees complete Section 1 of the I-9 form on or before their first day of employment and Section 2 within three (3) business days of the first day of work. When applicable, school administrators are also responsible for completing Supplement B, Reverification and Rehire, which is used when rehiring someone who was formerly employed but separated from employment previously and is being rehired.
Schools must retain a Form I-9 for all employees for three (3) years after their date of employment, or one (1) year after the date separation, whichever is later.
Pursuant to IRCA, employers, including all schools, colleges and universities having employees, are expressly prohibited from knowingly hiring “unauthorized alien[s]” or failing to comply with the employment eligibility verification process. School personnel are not expected to be experts when reviewing prospective employees’ documentation; however, there are practical measures that can be taken to spot falsifications before an individual is hired.
Reviewing a Case Status
Employers may check the status of employees who apply for employment with work visas or permanent resident identification cards. After locating the USCIS or Card Number, also referred to as the receipt number, school administrators or the employees themselves can utilize the USCIS’ online case status tool, Case Status Online.
The tool can be used to track the status of an immigration application, petition, or request. If an immigration case is fraudulent or expired, the case status will state, “the received number entered is invalid, please try again.”
Schools should not move further with the employment process if the applicant’s case number is invalid. In addition to verifying an immigration case number, schools can observe applicants’ identification cards to see if formatting, fonts, and other numerical values reflect the appropriate version.
Bottom Line for Schools
School administrators and hiring departments must ensure that they comply with the USCIS and mandatory employment eligibility verification by using the updated I-9 form beginning on October 31, 2023.
Schools must ensure that Form I-9 is completed and that they review acceptable forms of documentation with diligence and should discuss any suspicions or concerns to their solicitor or legal counsel immediately to confirm whether an applicant is authorized to work for the district.
School leaders with questions about I-9 forms or work visas should contact their solicitor or one of the Employment attorneys at KingSpry.