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I-9 Changes: What to Expect When

i9 changes

Pop quiz: Do you know how many I-9 changes are happening right now? It’s a trick question because no one does. There’s a new Form I-9…or is there? Remote verifications have expired…or have they? What CAN we tell you for sure?

Where’s the New Form?

It had been announced that Form I-9 expiring October 31, 2022, would undergo changes. These include basic edits, an updated list of acceptable documents, reduced and simplified instructions, and the removal of PDF restrictions to ensure the form can be completed on more electronic devices and systems.

So where is that new form? As of October 31, 2022, it wasn’t ready yet. “Employers should continue using the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, after its expiration date of October 31, 2022, until further notice,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced. “DHS will publish a Federal Register notice to announce the new version of the Form I-9 once it becomes available.”

Remote Reviews Continue

If you have a remote workforce, you’re in luck: The policy allowing remote, virtual verification for Form I-9 has been extended until July 31, 2023. But if you have a chance to see these employees in person, you may want to go ahead and verify. “Employers are encouraged to begin, at their discretion, the in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for employees who were hired on or after March 20, 2020, and who presented such documents for remote inspection in reliance on the flexibilities first announced in March 2020,” DHS adds.

What other I-9 changes can we expect in this area? Some speculate that virtual, remote I-9 verifications could become permanent. This past August, the DHS hinted at a permanent program and the possibility of virtual, remote verification even if employees are not working remotely. According to Littler, DHS is exploring implementation tools, including employers being enrolled in and utilizing E-Verify, attending an online DHS course on detecting fraudulent documentation, and retaining copies of documentation.

PRC Extensions

Employ workers who hold green cards? The validity of Permanent Resident Cards (PRC) has been extended from 12 months to 24 months for lawful permanent residents who have filed Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, to renew their PRC.

For individuals filing Form I-90 for the first time, a Form I-797 receipt notice with the 24-month automatic extension will be included. Individuals with a pending application should receive an amended receipt notice with the 24-month automatic extension before the initial 12-month extension period expires, DHS explains.

“When completing Form I-9, new employees may present an expiring or expired PRC with this receipt notice as a List A document that extends the PRC for 24 months from the Card Expires date on the front of the card, DHS adds. “Employers may not reverify current employees who presented this document combination with the original 12-month extension when they originally completed Form I-9.”

Why Keep an Eye on I-9 Changes?

Despite these and other extensions and opportunities, I-9 violations remain risky. Fines increased this year, and the number of I-9 audits has remained high since jumping 375% in 2018.

“Form I-9 is not a difficult form to complete, but it is important to still train your managers who are completing Form I-9 on the Company side to do so accurately and compliantly,” states Amy Beckstead, employment attorney at Beckstead Terry Ditto PLLC.  “The DHS does have substantial resource materials for employers to consult, including the Handbook for Employers. Those completing I-9s on behalf of companies should be well-versed in these resources to answer questions that can come up from time-to-time when reviewing documents or otherwise completing the form.”

Be sure to talk to your employment attorney about any I-9 changes that may affect your procedures now and in the coming months.