Understand important updates to employment eligibility verification requirements and Form I-9

Federal, state and local employment compliance can be challenging for large, mid-size and small employers. Understanding which regulations apply and don’t apply based on your location, your industry, your number of employees, etc. is tricky and it may often feel as though you’re chasing a moving target. Whenever news breaks regarding Form I-9 and employment eligibility verification, all employers must take the time to understand any new requirements and how they impact the processes you have in place today. This article provides a summary of several key developments with Form I-9 and Employment Eligibility Verification.

Remote verification and re-verification requirements

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recognized the need to offer flexibility to employers as they attempted to navigate recruitment and talent management. To provide that flexibility, the agency allowed employers to remotely examine identification documents and subsequently verify employment.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently published a final rule that puts an end to the temporary COVID-19 flexibilities as of July 31, 2023. For employees hired on or after March 20, 2020, whose documents were inspected remotely under the temporary flexibilities, employers must complete in-person document inspections by August 30, 2023. Employers do have the option of designating an authorized representative to complete the form and conduct inspections on their behalf.

At the same time the DHS notified employers of the end of the temporary flexibilities, they also published a document that give E-Verify employers the opportunity to continue remote document examination. To participate, employers must be enrolled in E-Verify, conduct a live video meeting with the employee to remotely examine the documents, select Form I-9 to use and note appropriately, retain copies of all documents examined with the employee’s Form I-9 and create an E-Verify case for all new hires.

Employers who were already participating in E-Verify from March 20, 2020 to July 31, 2023 may choose to use the alternative process described above effective August 1, 2023. This process will satisfy the physical document examination requirement. However, employers not enrolled in E-Verify during the period of temporary flexibility, must complete in-person examination of documents for all employees hired on or after March 20, 2020.

New form launched August 1, 2023

The USCIS also recently announced a new version of Form I-9, employment eligibility verification, which is expected to be easier for employers and employees. Yes, you heard that correctly — easier! The new form is said to be shorter and include clearer instructions for completion.

The updated form:

Employers can begin using the new form on August 1, 2023 but will also be permitted to use the 2019 version of the form through October 31, 2023. Effective November 1, 2023 only the new version of the form dated “08/01/2023” can be used. You can find the version date of the form you are currently using in the lower left-hand corner.

How Baker Tilly Vantagen can help

Our team of human resources (HR) professionals can help you navigate the latest regulations and requirements by answering questions, creating new policies and procedures and assessing the current state of your HR operations. We have the depth and breadth of experience to provide value-add services based on your specific needs. We recognize that while there may not always be a one-size-fits-all approach to HR, there are certain requirements that every employer must adhere to. Contact us today. We’re here to help.