BY STAN MOORE
Special to the Record-Eagle
---- — The new Form I-9 has now been released, and farmers should begin using the new form immediately for all new hires.
Steve Martin’s character “Navin R. Johnson” was thrilled that “the New Phone Book’s Here” because it “made him somebody” now that his name was in print. The I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form won’t make you someone, anymore than a phone book listing will, but it is required to be filled out for every newly hired employee on the farm (it applies to all individuals hired after Nov. 6, 1986, with some limitations).
The Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States” and this applies to citizens and non-citizens who are employed.
The new Form I-9 is nine pages total, but the actual form is two pages — three if you include the list of acceptable documents — with additional pages of expanded instructions.
New changes in the I-9 include:
• Expanded instructions to help ensure accurate completion.
• Two pages of input, including the Employee-completed section on a separate page from the Employer-completed section.
• New fields for e-mail address, phone number and foreign passport in Section 1.
The Form I-9 is available for download at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (www.uscis.gov/I-9Central). Also available on the U.S. CIS site are helpful training for employers and a new Handbook for Employers (M-274) that all employers should download and read. The Handbook for Employers contains instructions on the Form I-9, an extensive Question & Answer section and examples of acceptable documents for the Form I-9.
While the new Form I-9 should be used immediately on all new hires, USCIS is allowing a 60-day implementation period for those needing to change processes and software. The new form must be used starting May 7.
Employers do not need to complete a new Form I-9 for current employees who already have a properly completed Form I-9 on file, unless a new Form I-9 is filled out for re-verification or rehire.
A Spanish version of the Form I-9 is also available on the U.S. CIS site. Employers may use the Spanish version as a “translation guide” for Spanish-speaking employees, but must fill out and keep the English version for their records.
In future weeks, look for organizations to provide analysis of the new Form I-9. One such analysis was recently provided by Craig Anderson, editor of the Agriculture Labor & Safety Services Newsletter for Michigan Farm Bureau. Farmers can find out more about the ALSS newsletter by visiting www.michfb.com/safety/alss.
Stan Moore is a Michigan State University Extension educator.