As the staffing industry continues to evolve, it's crucial for owners and managers to stay updated on regulatory changes that impact their operations. One such recent update pertains to Form I-9 and its document inspection requirements. It is recommended that HR Personnel and Recruiters are familiar with the Form I-9. In this article, we'll delve into the key changes and provide guidance on how staffing industry owners can apply them effectively.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) periodically revises the Form I-9 to ensure compliance with immigration laws and streamline the verification process. Recent updates aim to enhance the security of the form and documentation provided by employees. On November 1, 2023, only the new Form I-9 that is dated 8/1/23 can be used with the current 2019 version being able to be used through 10/31/23. Another version for electronic onboarding is expected to be updated before October 31st.
Form I-9 updates include the following:
- Section 1 and 2 are now single-sided
- The form will be tablet and mobile device friendly
- Checkbox included for examining documentation remotely
- List of acceptable documents include some receipts and guidance to information and extensions of employment authorization documents
- Reverification and rehire is moved to a supplement for employers to print and the preparer/translator section is a supplement as well, when needed.
Also, in July, DHS announced an alternative procedure for Form I-9 in a Federal Register Notice. Based on the Notice, employers who meet four requirements may choose an alternative procedure in lieu of physically examining Form I-9 documentation that had been examined remotely under the COVID-19 flexibilities.
To qualify for the alternative procedure, the employer must have:
- performed remote examination of an employee’s documents between March 20, 2020, and July 31, 2023;
- been enrolled in E-Verify at the time they completed the Form I-9 for that employee;
- created a case in E-Verify for that employee (except for reverification); and
- be currently enrolled in and continue to participate in E-Verify.
Document Inspection Requirements: Under the updated guidelines, staffing industry owners should pay special attention to the following aspects when verifying the identity and employment eligibility of employees:
- Remote Inspection Flexibility: The USCIS has acknowledged the increasing prevalence of remote work arrangements. Employees working remotely can now present their identity and employment authorization documents via video call, email, fax, or other digital means. However, employers must adhere to strict guidelines to ensure the authenticity of the documents.
- Three-Day Rule Clarification: Employers must complete the Form I-9 within three business days of the employee's first day of work. In cases where documents are presented remotely, the three-day period starts when the documents are received, not when the employee begins work.
- Employment Authorization Extensions: Certain foreign temporary employees may be eligible for employment authorization extensions. Employers must be vigilant in tracking expiration dates and timely re-verifying work authorization if required.
Applying the Updates to Your Staffing Firm: To effectively apply these Form I-9 updates and document inspection requirements to your staff, consider the following steps:
1. Communication: Ensure that your HR team and hiring managers are well-informed about the changes. Train them to properly guide all new employees through the new document inspection procedures.
2. Remote Verification Procedures: Develop a clear and standardized process for remote document verification. Implement technology solutions that enable secure document sharing and virtual inspection. Consider using specialized software that assists in document validation.
3. Record Keeping: Maintain meticulous records of document inspection, including timestamps and communication records. This documentation will be crucial in case of audits or compliance reviews.
4. Regular Audits: Conduct periodic internal audits to verify that all Form I-9s are up-to-date and compliant. Address any discrepancies promptly.
5. Collaboration: Collaborate with legal experts who specialize in immigration compliance to ensure your firm's practices align with the latest regulations. Seek their guidance on tricky situations that may arise during document verification.
Adapting to the Form I-9 updates and document inspection requirements is something staffing owners have been accustomed to over the years. By staying informed, adapting procedures and seeking professional advice when needed, staffing owners can maintain compliance and efficiently manage their staff and temporary workforce.
Remote verification flexibility and a clear understanding of these changes are key to ensuring compliance while managing employees effectively. By aligning with these updated guidelines, staffing firms can continue to thrive in an ever-changing regulatory landscape.
COATS Staffing Software, as well as our partners, consistently update new hire onboarding forms and procedures for all clients to ensure compliance throughout our platform. If you seek assistance in managing your daily operations from a software that handles it all, contact us today.