It is commendable that USCIS is finally revising Form I-9 to make the form and its instructions more user-friendly both to employers and employees. Despite appearing to be straightforward, the current one-page form is fraught with peril. In fact it is precisely because the form appears to be so innocuous that employers often do not focus enough attention or resources on understanding the myriad complexities associated with properly completing this form. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has stepped up its audits and investigations of I-9’s in 2011 and 2012 and is aggressively imposing significant fines and penalties, even where the workers associated with the I-9’s are in the U.S. legally with proper authorization to work.
So it is refreshing that USCIS has put a new Form I-9 out for comment and is soliciting feedback from employers before it finalizes the new form. It is very helpful that USCIS is expanding the form to two pages and is wording the instructions so that they provide more direct guidance to employers as they complete the I-9.
One aspect of I-9 completion with which US employers constantly struggle is the issue of completing Form I-9 for remote hires. The USCIS Handbook for Employers (M-274) makes a passing reference to the fact that employers may hire agents to complete Form I-9 on their behalf, but there is very little guidance about how an “agent” appointed for I-9 purposes should complete Section 2 of the I-9. Hopefully USCIS will expand the draft instructions accompanying the new Form I-9 to provide more specific guidance to employers regarding the use of agents for completion of Form I-9. Employers throughout the U.S. would warmly welcome such guidance.
To see our recent alert on this topic click here.