M-274 Revisited: Panel Discusses the Revised I-9 Handbook

[Editor’s Note: today’s blog is co-authored by Dan Brown of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP] Many people find I-9 compliance to be an extremely dry topic, especially in comparison with the larger issues of immigration policy and enforcement. It’s also a fairly complex area of law, which involves several government agencies and consists of guidance from various memoranda, proposed regulations, and the ultimate treatise on I-9 compliance, the M-274 Employer Handbook. It’s no wonder that many human resources (HR) professionals and hiring managers have so many unanswered questions on how to complete this innocent-looking one page form. To address this need, we held a rather unique webinar on Tuesday to discuss the changes to the M-274, which was most recently revised and released by the USCIS last month. Due to the overwhelming number of registrants, we weren’t able to accommodate as many people as we would have liked (in case you had any doubts, I-9 compliance is apparently an extremely hot topic!) For those who couldn’t attend, here are just a few of the major points discussed:

The Thursday Rule

As previously discussed on this blog, the Handbook clarifies that employers must review the employee’s documents and fully complete Section 2 of the I-9 within three business days of the first day of work for pay but not including the actual date the employee starts work. The classic example: if employee begins work on Monday, must complete Section 2 by Thursday. If you’re using an electronic I-9 system, you’ll want to ensure that the deadline is properly tracked through a queue or dashboard, and that the system has appropriate checks and balances to ensure timely completion.

Interruptions of Employment

The general rule is that a new Form I-9 is required whenever a hire takes place, unless rehiring an employee within three years of the initial hire date. However, if there is an interruption and the employee is continuing in his or her employment, a new I-9 is not required. The handbook provides many examples as well as factors that you can consider to make this determination. When using an electronic I-9 system, make sure you have the ability to transfer the I-9 (or employee) from one distinct unit to another and that appropriate view/edit permissions are in place.

Name changes and misspellings

The I-9 Handbook clarifies that employers are not required to update the Form I-9 when an employee changes his or her name, although they are certainly free to do so. Employers can also accept documents with different names as long as the verifier can still reasonably determine that it relates to the person presenting them. Employers with electronic I-9 systems should make sure they can record name changes (preferably in section 3) and do so in a way where they are not tempted to request work authorization documentation or anything else which might be considered document abuse.

Can we get a one-page M-274 to match our one-page I-9?

No, not exactly. But, we are happy to announce a one-page cheat-sheet (just a figure of speech, mind you) which highlights the major new guidance in the M-274 handbook. By consulting this sheet, you can hopefully get a nice bird eye’s view of the changes and consult the M-274 directly for more detailed information. To request this guide, please click on the following image and complete the fields where indicated.

Request one-page M-274 Handout

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog post is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. If you have questions concerning how I-9 and E-Verify rules apply to your specific situation, please seek legal advice from a licensed professional attorney