Since the arrival of the pandemic, the world of work has been forced to establish a new system of remote work with regulations similar to labor employment. It is now more common to research about working as an Apple consultant from home, or about the advantages of remote work in New York.
For this very reason, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decided to authorize alternatives that allow companies to verify employee information.
Since the pandemic is finally over (as of July 31, according to DHS), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published the following day (August 1) an optimized Form I-9 format, with which it can be specified that the verification system used is virtual. Undoubtedly, this is excellent news and progress for the U.S. labor market.
What are the changes to Form I-9?
The main change was due to the labor flexibility that has been imposed as a result of COVID-19. As a result, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorized options for document verification for those who work legally at a distance.
These alternatives include allowing employers who are part of the E-Verify system to evaluate their employees’ documentation remotely. Thus, this mechanism is part of the DHS-authorized alternative procedure. Other notable improvements include:
- The reduction of sections 1 and 2. Now both are on the same page
- It is a friendly design to fill it through technological devices
- The old section 3 is left as the last page to be printed only in cases of Reverification and Rehire
- The Supplement A Preparator/Translator Certification section is attached with an individual page to be provided to the employee when this service is required
- On the third page, you will get all the legal documents of the employee that will be accepted and references that will serve as a guide in case of doubts
Likewise, there was a considerable improvement in the I-9 instructions from 15 pages to 8. However, this information is found on the main page of the Form and in the M-274 handbook.
How do I fill out the new Form I-9 if I have a remote employee?
First, you need to review the documentation. The process is not very complex, but it implies the exhaustive verification of Form I-9 and the documents indicated in it. A video call is also required to verify the documentation, and that’s it!
Now you must fill out your part of the Form I-9. In Section 2 on Employer Review and Verification, you must look for the Additional Information box (just below List B and List C) and there you will enter the E-Verify case numbers of the corresponding employee.
Then you will check the “check here if you used an alternative procedure authorized by DHS to examine documents”, as indicated in the DHS M-274 handbook (a manual that you should periodically review on the USCIS website). The rest of the process is easy and similar to the previous form.
I am an employer, how long can I use the old I-9 form?
Your best option is to familiarize yourself with the new form, but legally you will be required to use it for new employees, rehires, and verifications on November 1. So you have until October 31, 2024, to familiarize yourself with its structure and adapt to the improvements.
What is E-Verify? A Solution for the Form
It is a system that has been in place for almost two decades in the U.S. labor field and is now a DHS-authorized alternative procedure for the I-9.
This platform is used for companies to report and confirm that their workers comply with the documentation and legal requirements to be hired by U.S. companies.
It is important that both parties are registered in E-Verify, but the process for employers and employees is different. While employers are the ones who must notify the worker’s eligibility, primarily, hires and employee seekers can register in the myE-Verify version.
Easy to use, this employer platform will only take a few minutes out of your life if you have the right documentation and data.
It is also elementary to know that there are four methods to access the system, but not everyone can verify the eligibility of their employees. These are the four methods for accessing the system:
|This is specifically for checking employee eligibility.
|E-Verify employer agent
|If you offer employee verification services to companies.
|This is like a mother account on which individual employer accounts depend, so it does not check employee eligibility.
|This method is designed only for E-Verify software developers.
Similarly, you must know the category of the company, so you can select the option that best fits the description of the organization, for which you must check the eligibility of employees. Thus, you have the following options:
- Federal Contractor with FAR E-Verify Clause
- Federal Contractor without FAR E-Verify Clause
- Federal/State/Local Government
- Airport Operators
If the company is not part of these areas, just select the option stating that none of these categories apply. Then, you will need to fill out and sign a Memorandum of Verification, and complete some information associated with your legal documents, as well as important company information.
This is a platform created for workers or job seekers which has a much simpler account creation and login process. All you have to do is log in with your USCIS online account.
And if you do not have a USCIS user, just go to the website and follow the recommendations on the page.
Where can I download an I-9 form?
You will also be able to get the instructions and both formats are available in Spanish. Another relevant resource that you will find on the USCIS website is a factsheet with all the summary information about the improvements implemented to Form I-9.
“About E-Verify.” E-Verify, https://www.e-verify.gov/about-e-verify
“Employment Eligibility Verification.” Uscis Gov, https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/forms/i-9.pdf
“Handbook for Employers M-274 | USCIS.” Home | USCIS, https://www.uscis.gov/book/export/html/59502
Instructions for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/forms/i-9instr.pdf
“MyE-Verify.” E-Verify, https://www.e-verify.gov/employees/employee-self-services/mye-verify
“USCIS To Publish Revised Form I-9 | USCIS.” USCIS, https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/alerts/uscis-to-publish-revised-form-i-9