U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is scheduled to release a revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on July 17, 2017. The previous version, dated 11/14/16 N, remains valid, but only through September 17, 2017. On September 18, 2017, employers must use the new form.

The new form changes the name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.  In addition, several key changes have been made to the List C, Acceptable Documents to Prove Employment Eligibility:

  1. The Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) is now acceptable and is included on the drop-down menus in “smart” Form I-9 and in E-Verify.
  2. All certifications of report of birth that are issued by the U.S. Department of State (Forms FS-545, DS-1350 and FS-240) are now listed at #2 of List C.
  3. List C documents are now renumbered, except the Social Security card; for example, the EAD is now at #7 instead of #8

USCIS plans to update its “Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9” (Form M-274) to include these revisions in the near future.  Additional information is available at What’s New | USCIS.

The President’s Executive Order, commonly called the “travel ban”, has raised many questions.  We answer the most frequently asked questions below, and will update them as additional information becomes available.

I am from one of the named countries and am outside of the United States.  Can I apply for a nonimmigrant (temporary) or immigrant (permanent) visa at a US consulate?

On January 27, 2017, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) provisionally revoked most valid nonimmigrant and immigrant visas issued to nationals from the seven countries subject to the travel ban. Certain diplomatic and other visa categories are exempt from this action. This move was largely symbolic since individuals subject to the travel ban are not permitted to enter the United States. However, if and when the travel ban is lifted, individuals from the listed countries would most likely need to reapply to a U.S. consulate abroad for a new visa before they could travel to the United States.

Continue Reading Travel Ban FAQs

Donald Trump’s statements about the U.S. immigration system were a main feature of his presidential campaign. Now that he has been elected, many are questioning whether and how those statements might become actual policies. We have already begun fielding questions from clients asking how new policies, regulations and laws will affect their businesses, their employees, their families, and themselves.

Continue Reading What Businesses Can Expect from Trump’s Immigration Agenda

Employers enrolled in the E-Verify program were unable to access the E-Verify system during the recent government shutdown.  While employers were still required to complete paper I-9s for new hires, they were not able to enter the data into the E-Verify system within the required three days.  USCIS has issued guidance for E-Verify participants.  The guidance addresses handling tentative non-confirmations received between September 17, 2013, and September 30, 2013; SSA final non-confirmations; and how to comply with the three-day rule (which must be completed by November 5, 2013).

While the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) remains operating during the government shutdown, E-Verify services are not available.  This means that companies cannot enroll in E-Verify, and those already enrolled cannot verify employment eligibility, make changes to an account, or run reports.  The USCIS has provided limited guidance on their site.

Employers enrolled in E-Verify must continue to complete Form I-9 for new hires during the shutdown, even though the three-day rule for verifying employment eligibility online is suspended.  When the shutdown is over, employers will be able to verify the employment eligibility of those hired during the shutdown.

USCIS has announced a voluntary service that allows members of the public to verify their employment eligibility in the United States. E-Verify Self Check may be useful to anyone who wishes to confirm that the government’s records about them are accurate, and to address any mismatches among Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration databases. Once employment eligibility is confirmed in E-Verify Self Check, job seekers are unlikely to experience any delays when hired by an employer that uses the E-Verify system. 

Before the verification process is completed, individuals must answer a series of questions by a third party identity verification service. These questions are similar to those one would encounter when requesting a credit report, i.e., names of prior employers, prior addresses, amounts of car or mortgage payments, etc. USCIS states that none of the personal information from this "quiz" is stored in its records.

At this time, the service is only available to residents of Arizona, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Mississippi and Virginia. Once the initial trial period is completed, the service will be available to residents of additional states.

DHS announced the expansion of the E-Verify system with regard to new hires presenting US passports and passport cards during the I-9 process identification and employment eligibility process.  This new enhancement allows employers to instantly verify the validity and authenticity of US passport and passport cards, and is intended to strengthen the ability to detect fraudulent documents.  According to DHS, 10% of employees subject to E-Verify present US passports for I-9 purposes.

On July 1, 2010, the Vital Statistics Office of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico began issuing new, more secure Puerto Rican birth certificates to US Citizens born in Puerto Rico.  As of October 1, 2010, all certified copies of Puerto Rican birth certificates issued prior to July 1, 2010, will no longer be valid.  Accordingly, the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a press release providing guidance to US employers with regard to the I-9 process.  For new employees, employers may continue to accept all Puerto Rican birth certificates through September 30, 2010; after that date, only the new Puerto Rican birth certificates (issued on or after July 1, 2010) we be acceptable for I-9 purposes.  Therefore, as of October 1, 2010, employers must pay close attention to the issuance date of Puerto Rican birth certificates presented for I-9 purposes.

Continue Reading New Puerto Rican Birth Certificates Affect I-9 Process

The Department of State has revised its “visa reciprocity” schedule for China, effective July 9, 2010, allowing US embassies and consulates to issue 1-year, multiple-entry H-1B visas to Chinese nationals.  The new reciprocity schedule for China may be viewed at the State Department’s website here.

Validity periods and other restrictions on US nonimmigrant visas, such as H-1B visas, are based on the concept of “reciprocity”:  the validity and limitations another country imposes on US citizens for similar types of visas.  Previously, Chinese H-1B visas were limited to 3 months and only 2 entries to the United States, making frequent foreign travel problematic for Chinese H-1B workers and their U.S. employers.

The U.S. Department of State has confirmed that contractors on a pre-approved list at the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) are now auditing approved nonimmigrant petitions — including H-1B and L-1 petitions — in order to verify that information contained in the petitions is correct.  The audits are creating significant delays for petition-based visa applicants at embassies worldwide.

Continue Reading New Fraud-Related Audits Are Delaying Visa Issuance at US Embassies Abroad