The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published a new version of Form I-9, the form used by employers to verify the identity and authorization of their employees to work in the United States. Employers may begin using the new form immediately but must do so beginning May 7, or face penalties by USCIS.

The new Form I-9 contains several new data fields, including space for employees’ foreign passport information and e-mail addresses. The form’s instructions also have been revised to describe more clearly the information that employees and employers must provide in each section. In addition, the form’s layout has been revised and will now cover two pages, excluding instructions and a list of acceptable documentation.

The USCIS, which is the arm of the federal government that enforces immigration policy, has stated that it recognizes that some employers, particularly those that use electronic systems to verify employee work authorization, need time to modify their procedures. For this reason, it will continue to accept previous versions of Form I-9 until May 7, 2013.

The USCIS also notes that employers need not complete the new form for current employees unless there is a need for re-verification. In fact, in its announcement of the new form, the USCIS noted that unnecessary verification of employees may violate the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Employers should therefore modify their verification processes to make use of the new Form I-9 to confirm the identity and work authorization of any new employees as soon as possible.

John P. McLaughlin is a partner and Christopher T. Cognato is an associate with Ballard Spahr. McLaughlin can be reached at mclaughlinj@ballardspahr.com or 215-864-8241; Cognato can be reached at cognatoc@ballardspahr.com or 215-864-8612.

This article is provided as a general informational service and it should not be construed as imparting legal advice on any specific matter.


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