IMMIGRATION LAW REMINDER
On August 25, 2016 the Office of Management and Budget approved a revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. It is expected that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will publish a revised form by November 22, 2016. Many of the proposed changes to Form I-9 were designed to reduce technical errors and help employers electronically complete the form after they have downloaded it from uscis.gov. Employers may continue using the current version of Form I-9 with a revision date of 03/08/2013 until January 21, 2017. After January 21, 2017, all previous versions of Form I-9 will be invalid.
All employers have an obligation to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all newly-hired employees through the completion of the Employment Eligibility and Verification Form I-9. The Form I-9 contains the signature of the employer and the employee, and it records the relevant data from the documents that the employer inspected to confirm the employee’s authorization to work in the United States. It is important that the employer clearly identify the reviewed documents and their identification numbers. It is not necessary to retain copies of these documents. Employers are required to maintain for inspection the original Form I-9 for all current employees. In the case of former employees, retention of Form I-9 is required for a period of at least three years from the date of hire or for one year after the employment relationship terminates, whichever is longer.
The U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security through its U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau (ICE) are the government agencies with authority to audit I-9 compliance. ICE is committed to increased work-site enforcement, particularly in cases of low skill and high turnover industries. Employers should regularly audit their I-9 procedures, compliance, and recordkeeping, as well as establish a protocol at the “front desk” to identity persons responsible to deal with government inquiry; Employers should also be sure that all policies and protocols relating to recordkeeping and government compliance are current and understood by key employees.