The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently unveiled a significant update to the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, which will take effect Aug. 1, 2023. This revised version of the form incorporates several enhancements, the most significant of which is a checkbox that employers enrolled in E-Verify can mark to indicate they have reviewed copies of identity and employment authorization documents pursuant to a new alternative document examination procedure.
This alternative procedure has been authorized by DHS and is outlined in the latest final rule announced July 21, 2023, which will be published in the Federal Register.
The final rule also marks the end of temporary COVID-19 flexibilities as of July 31, 2023, and grants DHS the authority to permit employers to use alternative methods of examining Form I-9 documentation. As part of this rule making, employers enrolled in E-Verify now have the option to examine copies of their employees’ identity and employment authorization documents using the DHS-authorized alternative procedure.
The alternative procedure enables certain employers to review copies of Form I-9 documents instead of the previous requirement of in-person, physical verification. To qualify for participation in this alternative examination process, employers must be enrolled in E-Verify, review copies of employment authorization and identity documents, retain copies of all documents examined, conduct a live video interaction with the employee, and create an E-Verify case for new hires.
Employers who have used E-Verify and created cases for employees whose documents were examined during the COVID-19 flexibilities period (March 20, 2020, to July 31, 2023) can choose to implement the new alternative procedure starting Aug. 1, 2023, to satisfy the physical document examination requirement by Aug. 30, 2023. However, employers who were not enrolled in E-Verify during the COVID-19 flexibilities period must conduct an in-person physical examination by Aug. 30, 2023.
The revised Form I-9 introduces several notable changes to streamline the process, making it more efficient and user-friendly. The form has been reduced to a single-sided sheet, designed to be fillable on tablets and mobile devices. Additionally, the “Preparer/Translator Certification” area in Section 1 has been moved to a separate standalone supplement, and Section 3, pertaining to Reverification and Rehire, has also been shifted to its own supplement.
Furthermore, the “Lists of Acceptable Documents” page has been updated to include some acceptable receipts, along with guidance and links to information on automatic extensions of employment authorization documentation. The revision has also reduced the form’s instructions from 15 pages to 8 pages.
The new Form I-9 (edition date 08/01/23) will be available on the USCIS website Aug. 1, 2023. Employers may continue using the current Form I-9 (edition date 10/21/19) until Oct. 31, 2023. From Nov. 1, 2023, onwards, all employers must transition to using the new Form I-9.
This new alternative procedure for Form I-9 document examination, along with the revised form, bring greater flexibility and convenience to employers while ensuring the security and accuracy of the employment eligibility verification process.
Employers should familiarize themselves with the changes and consider implementing new procedures to stay compliant with these updates.