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New Form I-9 and E-Verify User Manual for US employers

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a revised Form I-9 and E-Verify User Manual. Employers should use the new Form I-9 for all new hires and for re-verification of current employees when their temporary employment authorization expires.

Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. All employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States, citizens and noncitizens included.

USCIS, which is an agency under the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), operates the E‑Verify program, an Internet-based system that allows any US employer to electronically verify the employment eligibility of a newly hired employee.

E-Verify is a voluntary program. However, employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause are required to enroll in E-Verify as a condition of federal contracting. E-Verify is also a requirement for employers of F-1 foreign students employed under STEM Optional Practical Training. Further, employers in states that have enacted legislation require some or all employers to utilize E-Verify as a condition of business licensing.

The new Form I-9 is available at the USCIS website. The new E-Verify User Manual is available for download here.

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New Form I-9 and E-Verify User Manual for US employers

US State Department visa and passport processing almost back to normal

keep calm visas

The US State Department announced on August 4 that most of the worldwide backlog of nonimmigrant visa cases have been resolved.  The Department continues to prioritize immigration cases and are printing visas with very few delays, although system performance issues remain an issue and the Consular Consolidated Database is not yet back to full operational capacity.  Visa applicants are advised they might still experience delays of up to one week in addition to normal processing times.

In late July, the Department announced technical problems with the passport and visa system.  By July 27, immigrant visas were given high priority.  The story was widely reported in major media, including many stories of the hardship caused to foreign workers at American companies who were unable to obtain visas to come to the US for work and other problems.   On July 31, the government was still anticipating it would take weeks to resume full visa processing.

The current reports are welcome news, but come with the warning that visa delays are still happening, just that the delays are shorter.  Employers and foreign employees seeking visas should take this into account when planning travel.  It may be faster to delay scheduling an appointment at a consular post until the problem is fully resolved OR it may be important to schedule an appointment as early as possible to allow sufficient time for processing.

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US State Department visa and passport processing almost back to normal

Immigration compliance and the importance of getting it right

Bilfinger_Compliance_Better-think-twice

Verification of all employees’ eligibility for employment in the United States is required, but can result in penalties if  a company reverifies unnecessarily — and discriminatorily.

A US employer agreed to pay $43,000 in civil penalties, undergo training on proper compliance, and submit to monitoring of compliance for 18 months as part of a settlement agreement reached last week with the US Justice Department.

The Justice Department found the employer engaged in discrimination during the employment eligibility verification process when it required lawful permanent residents to reverify their employment eligibility after their alien registration cards expired, as well as requiring permanent residents to produce specific documents.

US law requires employers to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all employees hired.  Reverification is required for employees who are not permanently authorized for employment in the US, such as individuals with temporary visas like H-1B, TN, L-1, etc., as well as those with employment authorization documents.  However, reverification is not required for US citizens and lawful permanent residents, since they are permanently authorized for employment, not withstanding the fact that US passports and alien registration cards generally expire and must be renewed every 10 years.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services agency provides a list of the acceptable documents to prove identity and employment eligibility.  The law allows the employee to select any documents from the acceptable list and forbids employers from mandating specific documents.  The law prohibits citizenship and national origin discrimination.

For more information, see the Justice Department press release.

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Immigration compliance and the importance of getting it right