As an employer in the United States, it is crucial to ensure that your employees are legally authorized to work in the country. Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, is an essential document that helps employers verify their employees’ identity and eligibility to work. This blog will guide you through the step-by-step process of filling out Form I-9 accurately and efficiently.
Step 1: Acquire the Latest Version of Form I-9:
Make sure you have the most up-to-date version of Form I-9, which can be obtained from the official website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Using an outdated version may result in errors and potential penalties.
On August 1st of this year, the USCIS released an updated version of the Form I-9. So, this new version of the I-9, which is dated August 1st, 2023, is available on the government website on uscis.gov.
Employers can continue to use the current version of the I-9 which is dated Oct 21st of 2019 until Oct 31st of this year. What that means is starting from November 1st of 2023 employers are expected to switch to using the new version of the Form I-9.
Step 2: Understand the Purpose of Each Section:
Form I-9 consists of three main sections: Employee Information and Verification, Employer Review and Verification, and Reverification and Rehires. Familiarize yourself with the purpose of each section to ensure compliance.
Step 3: Employee Section:
Begin by providing your employee’s name and contact information in Section 1. Section 1 of the form must be completed by the end of the employee’s first day of work for pay and this portion of the form requires the employee to attest that they are authorized to work in the United States.
Section 2 must be completed by the employer within three business days of the employee’s date of hire. So, the Section 2 process involves the employee presenting their choice of certain documents that demonstrate their identity and work authorization and the employer is expected to examine these documents to determine whether the reasonably appear to be genuine and that they relate to the employee. The employer is then expected to record this document information into Section 2 of the I-9.
Step 4: Employee Verification, Employer Review & Reverification:
In Section 2, it’s your responsibility, as the employer, to verify the employee’s identity and eligibility to work. You should physically examine the original documents that establish both identity and work eligibility. Acceptable documents are listed on the last page of Form I-9. Ensure the documents are unexpired and complete the required information accurately.
Typically for Form I-9, employers must examine an employee’s documentation in the employee’s physical presence. However, if an employer is unable to meet with the worker to review their original Form I-9 documents, Federal Law allows employers to use an authorized representative to fulfil this function of the employer’s behalf.
A qualified employer or an authorized representative who is acting on an employer’s behalf who chooses to use the alternative procedure must do the following items within 3 business days of the employee’s first day of employment.
First, the employee must submit a copy of their chosen I-9 verification documents to their employer.
Second, the employer must examine the front and back if a document is a two-sided copy of the identity and the employment authorization documentation to ensure that the documentation presented reasonably appears to be genuine.
Third, the employer must conduct a live video interaction using video conferencing software with the individual who is expected to present the same documentation that they provide a copy of, to ensure that the documentation appears to be genuine and relates to the individual.
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Fourth, the employer must indicate on the new I-9 by completing the corresponding checkbox that an alternative procedure was used to examine documentation to complete Section 2 or for reverification, if that applies.
Fifth, the employer must retain a clear and legible copy of the documentation, again, front and back if that documentation happens to be two-sided and lastly an employer is expected to submit an E-Verify case for their new hire, following the government guidelines
Step 5: Maintenance and Storage:
It’s vital to store completed Form I-9s for each employee. Maintain them either physically or electronically, but ensure they are easily accessible in case of inspection by the USCIS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or the Department of Labor.
Step 6: Staying Updated:
Government policies and procedures regarding work authorization can change over time. Stay informed and regularly check for updates on the USCIS website to ensure ongoing compliance with the latest rules and requirements.
Form I-9 is a critical document that plays a crucial role in ensuring that employers hire authorized workers in the United States. By following this step-by-step process, you can accurately complete Form I-9, helping to establish a legal and compliant workforce.
Remember, maintaining and updating Form I-9 records is an ongoing responsibility, and it’s essential to stay informed about any changes in regulations or procedures. By doing so, you can protect your business and your employees while adhering to the immigration laws of the United States.