A few weeks after the Border Security, Economic Opportunity & Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, also know as immigration reform, was berthed onto the Senate floor, a related mandatory procedure for employers also went into effect.
As of May 7 the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires employers to use an updated Form I-9 to verify the identity and employment authorization of any new hire, regardless of citizenship, or pay a $1,000 fine. Existing employees do not need to be re-certified.
“Improvements to Form I-9 include new fields, reformatting to reduce errors, and clearer instructions to both employees and employers,” according to the immigration agency.
In keeping with immigration reform’s emphasis on English as the country’s de facto language, employers operating in the 50 states are required to file the new I-9 forms in English only. While employers in the U.S. and other U.S. territories may use the Spanish version of the form as a reference, only employers operating in Puerto Rico are permitted to file a Spanish version of the form, according to the Immigration agency.
“The I-9 was updated for two key reasons: ease of use and adding some key pieces of missing information. On the former, the new form adds improved instructions and a revised layout; on the latter, it adds data fields for foreign passport information, telephone and email,” says Jon Hyman, a partner at Cleveland-based law firm Kohrman, Jackson and Krantz, in an email.
The new I-9 and its guidelines are available at www.uscis.gov under “Forms.”