Department of Homeland Security Proposes Big Changes to I-9 Form and Process
Department of Homeland Security Proposes Big Changes to I-9 Form and Process

Department of Homeland Security Proposes Big Changes to I-9 Form and Process

Abbie Mood |

The current form expires on October 31, 2022.

Form I-9 is a United States Citizenship and immigration services form that is used to verify and record employment eligibility for new hires. Officially called Employment Eligibility Verification, the current version of this form expires on October 31, 2022. While a new form is issued approximately every three years, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rarely makes changes to the verification process.  

This year, we may see both. 

Proposed Changes to the Form I-9 Document 

In an effort to simplify and clarify the document, the DHS has announced a few proposed changes.  

Highlights1 include: 

  • Condensing Sections 1 and 2 to one page instead of two separate pages 
  • Moving Section 3 (Rehire & Reverification) to a separate section and only accessed if needed 
  • Reducing the instructions from 15 to seven pages 
  • List of Acceptable Documents will include a link to List C documents on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website 
  • Fields that don’t apply may be left blank, eliminating the “N/A” requirement 
  • Form with be compatible with all electronic devices, reducing software issues 

Other minor changes include: 

  • Condensing the A-number, I-94, and Foreign Passport boxes into one box 
  • Removing the QR code box 

Because it’s a required federal form, every employer in the U.S. has to fill it out for every new hire, but it can be confusing. Take the blank field and N/A requirement, for example. Employers are currently required to write “N/A” even in fields that are optional. It is easy to make a mistake when completing the form manually on paper, which not only takes much more time than it should, but could also lead to costly fines — one of the many reasons we recommend digitizing your I-9 compliance process. 

Proposed Changes to the Form I-9 Verification Process 

During COVID-19, offices became barren as remote work instantly became the norm. As companies navigate the post-pandemic world, many are embracing hybrid working environments, and the federal government has realized the need to adapt as well.  

On August 18, 2022, the DHS published Optional Alternatives to the Physical Document Examination Associated With Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9)2, which would could extend certain rules created during COVID-19 to allow alternative methods (i.e. remote) for the inspection of employee documents for the Form I-9. PresentlyUnless DHS permanently adopts the COVID-19 exceptions or implements new remote document inspection processes, employers must physically (in-person) verify the documents presented by a new hire to prove employment eligibility. 

Other key points include: 

  • Determining various document retention requirements when presented remotely 
  • The changes would allow that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were informed when a form was verified using alternative processes 
  • DHS is considering a fraudulent document detection process and adding an anti-discrimination training requirement for employers 

US Employers are eager for DHS to adopt a permanent virtual I-9 option and modernize an outdated I-9 process. No doubt accelerated by the pandemic, we are seeing more and more Mitratech customers looking for compliant remote hiring I-9 solutions. The in-person document inspection requirement presents the single greatest obstacle to compliance remote hiring and technology has now advanced to a point where remote/virtual document inspection methods are on par if not provably more compliant than in-person inspections,” said Brian Fancher, Director of HRC Product Management and Compliance at Mitratech.  

 The proposed changes may initially be implemented as part of a pilot program, and DHS is accepting public comments until October 17, 2022, after which they will issue a Final Rule. For more information and to submit comments, review the proposed rule change document here.