On January 31, 2020 the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a new version of Form I-9.  Employers will have until May 1, 2020 to make the switch to the new form.  There are no changes from the current document that expired on October 21, 2019.

The Form I-9 was established in 1986 in order to verify the work eligibility of employees of US companies.  Except for a few exceptions, all employers must complete the Form I-9 for all of their employees hired after November 6, 1986.  The Form I-9 must be completed after a formal offer has been made and before the end of the employee’s third day of employment.

The Form I-9 isn’t lengthy, but failure to complete it correctly can be costly.  Here are a few tips for completing the Form I-9.

  • Be familiar with the acceptable documents an employee must present.  Take time to review the documents, make sure they are not expired, and only accept originals, no photocopies.  If you are not familiar with a document presented contact the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office (see website below).
  • Complete any necessary follow-up.  For certain citizenship statuses there is required follow-up; particularly if the employee’s document has an expiration date.  Make sure to set up a process in order to re-verify these documents as needed.
  • Store your forms appropriately.  The Form I-9 should not be stored in the employee’s personnel file.  They should be kept in a separate folder or binder in a secure location
  • Follow the retention guidelines.  The form must be retained the entire time the employee is employed with the company.  After separation of employment the employer is required to keep the form for three years after the employees start date or one year after the employees last day of employment, whichever is later.
  • Conduct regular internal audits.  It is best to review your forms annually.  Make sure that all current employees have a Form I-9 completed, make sure all forms are accurate and if errors are found appropriately correct them, and verify if you are required to retain the documents or not.

For more information on the Form I-9 or to download the Employer Handbook go to www.uscis.gov/i9.