The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has introduced a new version of Form I-9, which will be mandatory for employers to use starting from August 1, 2023. This updated form, known as Form I-9 (Rev. 08/01/23), comes with significant changes and improvements designed to streamline the verification process. Moreover, qualified employers are now allowed to conduct remote verification of Form I-9 documentation, a procedure known as the “Alternative Procedure.” This blog post will cover the key points related to the new Form I-9 and the remote verification process to help employers stay compliant with the updated requirements.
The Updated Form I-9 (Rev. 08/01/23)
- Form Availability: The new Form I-9 (Rev. 08/01/23) will be available for use on or after August 1, 2023. Employers can access it on the USCIS website and may also order paper copies if they prefer not to use the electronic version.
- Effective Period: The prior version of Form I-9 (Rev. 10/21/19) will remain valid until October 31, 2023. After this date, only the new Form I-9 (Rev. 08/01/23) will be accepted.
- Changes in Form I-9: The updated Form I-9 features several significant changes, including:
- Section 1, Preparer/Translator Certification, is now a separate document (Supplement A) provided to employees when necessary.
- Section 3, Reverification and Rehire, is now a standalone document (Supplement B) to be used for reverification purposes.
- It can now be filled out on tablets and mobile devices.
- The term “alien authorized to work” in Section 1 has been replaced with “noncitizen authorized to work.”
- The Lists of Acceptable Documents page includes acceptable receipts and links to information on automatic extensions of employment authorization documents.
- A box has been added for eligible employers to check if the alternative verification procedure was used.
- The instructions have been condensed from 15 to eight pages, making the process more user-friendly.
- Action Item: Employers must start using the new Form I-9 (Rev. 08/01/23) for all new hires and reverifications from November 1, 2023, onwards.
Remote Verification – The “Alternative Procedure”
- Eligibility for Remote Verification: Qualified employers can conduct remote documentation verification for employees hired on or after August 1, 2023. To be considered qualified, employers must be participants in good standing in the federal E-Verify program.
- Steps for Remote Verification: Within three business days of an employee’s first day of employment, the employer must take the following steps:
- Receive and examine copies of the employee’s Form I-9 documents (or an acceptable receipt).
- Conduct a live video meeting with the employee, ensuring the presented documents reasonably appear genuine and relate to the employee.
- Check the “alternative procedure” box on Form I-9 (Rev. 08/01/23) to indicate the use of remote verification.
- Retain clear and legible copies of all documents provided by the employee to complete Form I-9.
- In-Person Verification Requirement: Employers cannot mandate the alternative procedure; employees who prefer in-person verification must be accommodated. In-person verification may be necessary for remote employees lacking access to suitable technology or feeling uncomfortable transmitting sensitive personal information electronically.
- COVID-19 Flexibilities: The alternative procedure can be used to fulfill the requirement to physically examine Form I-9 documentation that was previously verified remotely under the COVID-19 flexibilities, provided certain conditions are met.
The introduction of the new Form I-9 (Rev. 08/01/23) and the option for remote verification through the “Alternative Procedure” offer employers greater flexibility and efficiency in ensuring compliance with employment eligibility verification regulations. Employers should stay up-to-date with USCIS guidelines and make the necessary changes to their verification processes to meet the updated requirements. By adhering to these new procedures, employers can streamline their onboarding process while maintaining legal compliance and ensuring a legal and authorized workforce.