Most employers are quite familiar with completing a Form I-9 for their newly hired employees, however many are struggling with understanding when it is appropriate to fill out the third section regarding reverification. In fact, completing reverification is a critical step in compliance when employees have a name change, share only a receipt for a lost or stollen List B or C document or when an employee’s work authorization document is temporary and has a limited validity period. All of these types of situations require the employer to track and take timely action to update the employee’s Form I-9 using Section 3.
To be better equipped in understanding the reverification process, what it involves and how to navigate it, we have put together some basic information to help guide you, along with the benefits of using a digital I-9 compliance software program specifically for this purpose.
Reverification for Employment Authorization of Current Employees
The key to reverification for employment authorization is to review and update the employee’s new document(s) before the expiration date of the current version of the listed document. It is considered unlawful to continue employing an individual who is without proof of current employment authorization, and it can negatively impact Form I-9 compliance.
Employees should present employers with a new approved document that shows current and future employment authorization. The employer should then complete Section 3 of the Form I-9. A new form may be required if Section 3 has already been filled out on the original Form I-9 or if there is a more recently issued version of the Form I-9 by USCIS than the version originally used at the time the employee was hired.
This type of reverification requires:
- the employee’s full name as listed on the original Form I-9
- an employee’s new name if it has changed, it should be updated here too
- the title of the document used along with its number and expiration date
- name of the person completing the form, signature, and the signing date applied
If an additional Section 3 on a new form has been completed (many Section 3 updates may have been needed during the course of a person’s employment) all versions with their respective updates should be stored with the original form I-9.
Reverification or Updating of Employment Authorization for Rehired Employees
It is a best policy practice to complete a brand new Form I-9 for a re-hire. However, in some situations the I-9 regulations allow for the prior I-9 form to be used to reverify employment. For example, employees who rehired prior to one year from the termination date or three years from the date of their original hire date, their prior Form I-9 may be used to reverify their employment and the employer can complete Section 3 to do so IF the prior Form I-9 that was completed is the same as the current legal version of the form. If the version of the Form I-9 has changed since the previously completed version, the employee will need to fill out a new Form I-9 upon their re-hire date.
Additionally, if it is appropriate to use Section 3 for a Rehire and if the employee is still authorized to work, no additional documentation is needed from the employee However, employers must still include:
- the employee’s last name, first name, middle initial
- name changes can be reflected in the name fields
- the rehire date
- the name and signature of the person completing the form
If an employee’s work authorization has expired, an employer is required to follow the same steps as they would for an employee that is still authorized to work. However, they must also reverify the employee’s employment authorization in Block C.
Recording Identity and Changes of Name for Current Employees
An employee that undergoes a legal name change due to a situation such as getting married, requires completion of Section 3 of the Form I-9. Employers should take note that it is crucial to verify that the employee’s name change is accurate, which could include providing proof via legal documentation such as a marriage certificate. Employers must make a copy of this proof and store it with the Form I-9 to have on hand in the event of an audit. If the legal name change comes without rehire or reverification, the process simply requires the employer to enter the employee’s new name in Section 3 of the Form I-9 as well as sign and date that section.
Should an employee need to change their name due to the previous presentation of a false identity, a new Form I-9 should be completed, but include the original hire date in Section 2 and store these documents all together along with a written explanation for the name update.
Important Considerations for Form I-9 Reverification
Reverification can be an involved process despite the seemingly simple steps listed above. But to complicate matters more, there are a few important considerations for employers to keep in mind:
- Employers are required to reverify an employee’s work authorization and complete Section 3 of the Form I-9 by the date that the employee’s authorization expires.
- Employers are not allowed to ask for a specific document for reverification, just as they are not allowed to ask for specific forms of documentation for other sections of the Form I-9. The only stipulation is that for presented documentation to be considered, it must be on the approved list of documents as noted on the form.
- Reverification must be tracked even for current employees who initially provided proof of temporary work authorization due to a lost or damaged document and those employees must present an actual replacement document to complete all Form I-9 actions
- Reverification is not required for noncitizen nationals or U.S. citizens, nor is it required when documents such as U.S. passports, U.S. passport cards, lawful permanent residents who presented a Form I-551, Permanent Resident or Alien Registration receipt card for Section 2 (Including conditional residents), or documents in List B that expire.
- Not handling reverification properly can result in being found non-compliant which can yield some hefty fines. First time offenses generally start at $500 per offense and go up to around $4,500. From there, fines increase significantly for repeat offenses.
How Digital I-9 Compliance Software Can Help
The reverification process requires action to be taken before an employee’s work authorization expires, so it is critical for employers to stay organized, have a good tracking system and be proactive in this area. It can be beneficial for an employer to invest in digital I-9 compliance software that assists with built in reminders, alerting users about soon to be expired work authorizations. Software programs like these are instrumental in helping track expiring documents before they become an issue, secure digital document storage and archiving, and centralizing compliance reporting. Most I-9 tracking systems are also integrated with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”) E-Verify system and having the two compliance tracking features rolled into one tool brings significant efficiency to an employer’s compliance program.
It is vitally important for a business to clearly understand the Form I-9 reverification process to remain in compliance, and digital I-9 software makes it easy to do so, easing the burden of employers and offering valuable peace of mind.