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Revised Form I-9 Goes Into Effect

Immigration Law Update

April 3, 2009

Commencing April 3, 2009, employers will be required to use a new Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9) to verify the identity and employment authorization of all new hires. The new form must also be used to reverify the employment authorization of any employee whose work authorization expires on or after April 3, 2009. According to the Department of Homeland Security, many of the changes were motivated by concerns over the security of the employment authorization verification process. Thus, among other changes, several revisions were made to the list of acceptable documents.

Revisions to Form I-9 include the following:

  • All documents must be valid and unexpired.  Employers may no longer accept expired documents, such as an expired passport, to verify an employee’s identity or worker eligibility.  Any document such as a Social Security card, however, that does not contain an expiration date will be considered unexpired.
  • Elimination of Forms I-688, I-688A and I-688B.  Form I-688 (Temporary Resident Card), I-688A and I-688B (prior outdated Employment Authorization cards) were consolidated as one item on List A when Form I-9 was revised in 2007.  Since they are no longer issued by the government, however, they are no longer acceptable for I-9 purposes. Only Form I-766 (the current Employment Authorization document) may be accepted by an employer as a List A document.
  • References to Temporary I-551’s.  The new Form I-9 expands the reference to temporary I-551 “stamps” in List A to include pre-printed temporary I-551 notations on machine-readable immigrant visas (MRIVs). This change reflects the fact that U.S. Consulates will affix such MRIVs to the foreign passports of aliens immigrating to the United States.
  • References to Form I-94A.  The new Form I-9 now includes the words “Form I-94A” next to each reference to Form I-94. The two forms are nearly identical; however, on Form I-94A, all fields are computer-generated rather than annotated by hand.
  • Restrictions Relating to Social Security cards.  Over the years, employment restrictions printed on the face of Social Security cards have changed. The new form revises the instructions on the types of Social Security cards that are valid for List C purposes. Employers are now instructed that they may not accept Social Security cards as a valid List C document if the cards contain the following legend: "not valid for employment purposes."
  • Documentation for Citizens of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.  The form has been revised to reflect that, under 2003 amendments to the Compacts of Free Association between the U.S. and Micronesia, and the U.S. and the Marshall Islands, citizens of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands may reside and work in the U.S. as non-immigrants without applying for an employment authorization card. They need only present their passports, along with evidence of admission under the Compacts, to work in the United States and satisfy I-9 requirements.
  • Other, Technical Changes to Form I-9 Include:
      • Replacing the term “employment eligibility” with the term “employment authorization,” to conform to the statutory language.
      • Replacing references to the former “Immigration and Naturalization Service” with the “Department of Homeland Security.”
      • Correcting references to Form FS-545 to read “Certification of Birth Abroad” and Form DS-1350 to read “Certification of Report of Birth.”
      • In Section I, making “citizen of the United States” and “noncitizen national of the United States" two separate categories, to reflect the distinction between U.S. citizens and noncitizen nationals (persons born in American Samoa, certain former citizens of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and certain children of noncitizen nationals born abroad).
      • In the form's instructions, clarifying that certain employees whose work authorization does not expire (e.g., asylees, refugees, certain citizens of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands) may leave the expiration date blank, since reverification does not apply to them, unless they choose to present Section 2 evidence of employment authorization that contains an expiration date (such as an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766)).

Since the new Form I-9 becomes effective today, employers should revise their I-9 process to replace the prior form with the new February 2, 2009 version. The new Form I-9 can be downloaded at: http://www.uscis.gov/i-9.  An updated version of the Handbook for employers has also been issued.