Staying on Top of Form I-9 Compliance during a Global Pandemic

by Breanne Johnson

Staying on Top of Form I-9 Compliance during a Global Pandemic

by Breanne Johnson

by Breanne Johnson

The COVID pandemic has shaken up the traditional workforce. Delays in the issuance of USCIS receipt notices and other pandemic-related modifications to immigration law and policy have had an impact Form I-9 completion and have made this two-page form even more challenging to complete.

Form I-9 is used to verify the employment authorization and identity of individuals offered employment in the United States and is one of the shortest yet most complicated forms required by the U.S. government from U.S. employers. U.S. employers must properly complete the Form I-9 for each individual hired.

In response to more and more newly hired noncitizen employees presenting receipt notices as part of the I-9 verification process USCIS has provided updated guidance for employers completing Form I-9 when an employee presents a receipt notice. This updated guidance can be found here in the I-9 Central portal.

In another update, as previously reported in the Curray York and Associates blog, on May 25, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor jointly authorized the release of 22,000 additional H-2B visas to help businesses affected by COVID that will suffer irreparable harm if they cannot hire H-2B workers.  As part of this increased allotment the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor also enabled portability for H-2B workers already located in the United States. The principle of portability allows H-2B workers who are already located in the United States to begin work immediately with a new employer after their H-2B petition is received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services but before the petition is adjudicated.  Under this flexible policy H-2B workers may immediately begin work for employers hardest hit by the COVID pandemic. Under the portability guidance the new employer may employ the H-2B worker for a period not to exceed 60 days beginning on May 25, 2021 or the employment start date, whichever is later. Or, the H-2B noncitizen worker is able to begin employment with a new employer for a period not to exceed 60 days beginning on the received date of their USCIS receipt notice. The employee’s employment authorization must be reverified in Section 3 by the end of the 60-day period.

These complex rules of portability create challenges for employers trying to complete Form I-9 upon hiring new workers.  In this portability scenario, the H-2B employee’s unexpired Form I-94 along with his or her foreign passport qualify as a Form I-9 List A Document for Form I-9 verification purposes.

Each immigration status and class of employment authorization carries unique implications for Form I-9 completion. For advice regarding how to complete the Form I-9 in various and ever-changing hiring scenarios a Curray York and Associates attorney for a consultation.

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