On August 1, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will release a new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Effective that same day, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has authorized a permanent optional alternative procedure to allow qualified employers to virtually inspect and verify identification documents to complete Section 2 of Form I-9. Virtual inspection that has been allowed for remote employees since 2020 had been set to expire July 31, 2023.
While DHS previously stated that remotely-verified forms would need to be reverified no later than August 30, 2023, the agency announced that employers do not need to complete the new Form I-9 (Rev. 08/01/23) for current employees who already have a properly completed Form I-9 on file, unless reverification applies after October 31, 2023. Additional details and clarification of “properly completed” will be provided when they become available.
According to the DHS, the alternative remote verification procedure will only be available at this time to qualified employers who are enrolled and participate in good standing in E-Verify. Employers who are already enrolled in E-Verify are not required to reenroll in E-Verify to use the alternative procedure. Also according to DHS, E-Verify has the capacity to support an increased number of employers who may choose to newly enroll in E-Verify to use the alternative procedure. Employers who do not qualify may continue to use authorized representatives where in-person inspection is not feasible.
Qualified employers who choose to remotely verify identification documents after August 1, 2023 must follow the below procedure:
- The employee must first transmit a copy of the document(s) to the employer.
- The employer must examine copies (front and back, if the document is two-sided) of the documents to ensure that the documentation presented reasonably appears to be genuine.
- The employee must then present the same documents during a live video interaction with the employer.
- The employer must check the corresponding box on the Form I-9 (Rev. 08/01/23) that an alternative procedure was used to examine documentation to complete Section 2 or for reverification, as applicable.
- The employer must retain a clear and legible copy – either paper or electronic versions — of the documentation (front and back, if the documentation is two-sided), of all documents examined for as long as the employee works for the employer and for a specified period after employment has ended.
Starting on August 1, 2023, employers may download the new Form I-9 (Rev. 08/01/23) from the USCIS website. The prior version of Form I-9 (Rev. 10/21/19) will no longer be valid after October 31, 2023.
According to the USCIS, the forthcoming new version of Form I-9 will have significant changes to the form and its instructions, including a checkbox to indicate that an employee’s Form I-9 documentation was examined virtually. Other updates to Form I-9 include:
- Reduced Sections 1 and 2 to a single-sided sheet. No previous fields were removed. Rather, multiple fields were merged into fewer fields when possible.
- Moved the Section 1 Preparer/Translator Certification area to a separate, standalone supplement (Supplement A) that employers can provide to employees when necessary.
- Moved the Section 3 Reverification and Rehire area to a separate, standalone supplement (Supplement B) that employers can print if or when rehire occurs or reverification is required.
- Removed use of “alien authorized to work” in Section 1 and replaced it with “noncitizen authorized to work” as well as clarified the difference between “noncitizen national” and “noncitizen authorized to work.”
- Ensured the form can be filled out on tablets and mobile devices.
- Removed certain features to ensure the form can be downloaded easily. This also removes the requirement to enter N/A in certain fields.
- Updated the notice at the top of the Form I-9 that explains how to avoid discrimination in the Form I-9 process.
- Revised the Lists of Acceptable Documents page to include some acceptable receipts as well as guidance and links to information on automatic extensions of employment authorization documentation.
Updates to the Form I-9 instructions include:
- Reduced length of instructions from 15 pages to 8 pages.
- Added definitions of key actors in the Form I-9 process.
- Streamlined the steps each actor takes to complete their section of the form.
- Added instructions for use of the new checkbox for employers who choose to examine Form I-9 documentation under an alternative procedure.
- Removed the abbreviations charts and relocated them to the M-274, Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9. An updated M-274 will likely be released along with the revised Form I-9, but it is not yet available.