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Gail S. Seeram

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in early November that revisions have been made to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, which is required to be submitted by employers for each employee hired in the United States.

The purpose of Form I-9 is to confirm the identity and work eligibility for employees. Employers are encouraged to start using the revised Form I-9 immediately.

The main revision to Form I-9 is the removal of five documents for proof of both identity and employment eligibility. They include: Certificate of U.S. Citizenship; Certificate of Naturalization; Alien Registration Receipt Card; the unexpired Reentry Permit; and the unexpired Refugee Travel Document. These documents were removed because they lack features to help deter counterfeiting, tampering and fraud.

The revised list of acceptable documents now includes: a U.S. passport (unexpired or expired); a Permanent Resident Card; an unexpired foreign passport with a temporary I-551 stamp; an unexpired Employment Authorization Document that contains a photograph; and an unexpired foreign passport with an unexpired Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94) for nonimmigrant aliens authorized to work for a specific employer.

Unlike tax forms, Form I-9 is not filed with the U.S. government. The requirement is for employers to maintain Form I-9 records in its own files for three years after the date of hire or a year after the date the employee's employment is terminated, whichever is later. This means that Form I-9 need to be retained for all current employees, as well as terminated employees whose records remain within the retention period.

Q: Where can I get the new Form I-9 and the Employer Handbook?

A: Both Form I-9 and the Employer Handbook are available as downloadable PDFs at Employers without computer access can order USCIS forms by calling the toll-free number at 1-800-870-3676.

Q: Can I accept documents that used to be on Form I-9 but aren’t now?

A: No. Employers may only accept documents listed on the List of Acceptable Documents on Form I-9. When re-verifying employees, employers should ensure that they use the new Form I-9 with its updated list of acceptable documents.

Q: Are there any changes in the way the new Form I-9 is completed?

A: No. The updated form should be completed exactly the same way as the old one was. The only difference is the types of documents that employers may accept in Section 2.

Q: May I continue to use earlier versions of Form I-9?

A: No. Employers must use the 2007 edition of Form I-9, approved on June 5, 2007. All previous versions of Form I-9 in English and Spanish are no longer valid.

Q: Do I need to complete the 2007 Form I-9 for all my employees or just the new ones?

A: Employers only need to complete the 2007 Form I-9 for new employees. Employers do not need to complete new forms for existing employees. However, employers must use the 2007 Form I-9 when their employees require re-verification.

Gail S. Seeram, an immigration attorney, handles cases involving family petitions, business/investors visas, citizenship, deportation, asylum, work authorization, and extension of status. Call her office toll free at 1-877-GAIL-LAW (1-877-424-5529), send an email at or visit her Web site at

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