Whether you are planning to make a couple of new hires in the coming months or you are expanding your business significantly and will bring on many new employees, you may be wondering if the new I-9 form will affect your hiring practices. As you know, an I-9 form is used to verify an employee’s identity and to confirm that the employee is legally authorized to work within the U.S. You likely also know that the federal government announced changes to the I-9 form that have been in effect since May 2020. In addition, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would change the I-9 documentation requirements. Further detail are provided below.
As an employer in Texas, what do you need to know about the new I-9 form and how it could impact your business?
You Need to Use the New Form I-9
To hire anyone on or after May 1, 2020, you must use the new Form I-9—you cannot use old copies of the form.
New I-9 Form Will Not Impact Hiring Independent Contractors
If you are planning to hire independent contractors, you do not need to require the independent contractor to complete the Form I-9. However, it is important to remember that it is unlawful to engage an independent contractor in work if you know that the independent contractor does not currently have authorization to work in the country.
Recent Rehires and Current Employees Do Not Need to Fill Out the New Form I-9
Just because there are updates to the I-9 form does not mean that existing employees will need to fill it out again. In fact, even employees that were hired within the last three years and left your business will not need to fill out a new Form I-9 if you rehire them within three years from their last employment with you and you were the employer that originally completed the Form I-9. Accordingly, if your hiring plans include rehires of employees who recently worked for your company, you likely will not need to fill out the new Form I-9. However, you should check with an experienced employment law attorney to be certain.
Hiring During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In addition to changes to the actual Form I-9, USCIS has made some temporary changes to documentation requirements. Typically, in order to complete the Form I-9, a new hire being on-boarded must physically present the documentation requirements. However, for employees who are working remotely and new hires who will be working remotely, it may be possible to go through the I-9 employee eligibility verification process remotely and then collect copies of those documents when completing Section 2 of Form I-9.
To be clear, if you are hiring employees who will be working remotely, you can inspect the documents by video, Zoom, or another electronic platform. Then you can request copies of the documents for the telework period. However, once your business resumes its normal operations and the employee physically returns to the workplace, that employee must present original documents to you for verification.
Contact an Employment Law Attorney in Dallas for More Information
If you have questions about when and how you must complete a Form I-9 when hiring new workers, it is critical to seek advice from one of our experienced Texas employment law attorneys. Our firm can help you to ensure that you are in compliance with federal law and that you provide all necessary documentation and meet all requirements for I-9 forms in the U.S. Contact Simon Paschal PLLC to learn more about the services we provide to employers in Dallas and throughout Texas.