PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS, PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

WORKER ELIGIBILITY VERIFICATION UPDATE

By at 18 July, 2017, 10:41 am

Worker Verification Eligibility FormEmployers are required to verify the eligibility of an employee to work in the U.S. Hiring someone who is not eligible to work in the U.S. can result in penalties for the company. Verification is done on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Form I-9. On July 17, 2017, USCIS issued a new version of the form.

Employers can use the new form (a paper or electronic version) or continue through September 17, 2017, using Form I-9 with a release date of 11/14/16. Starting on September 18, 2017, only the new form can be used.

What’s new?

The new form is not dramatically different from the prior version. The name “Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices” is changed to its new name, “Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.” And there is another language change.

What has changed is the list of acceptable documents for the worker to verify eligibility to work in the U.S. For example, Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) has been added to the list.

What’s E-Verify?

Employers can enroll in E-Verify, which is an Internet-based system to determine worker eligibility. Nearly 750,000 employers have already done so, but this is only a small fraction of the total number of employers in the U.S. Those enrolled can use the E-Verify logo (a registered trademark of the Department of Homeland Security) on their websites, presentations, brochures, and other materials. There are free webinars to learn more about E-Verify (they’re going to be updated to reflect the new form).

Workers with visas

Some visas permit individuals to work in the U.S. The rules on visas are continually changing. For example, in May, Haitian visas were extended for six months, but individuals must re-register by July 24, 2017.

The International Entrepreneurial Final Rule that had been set to take effect on July 17, 2017, has been temporarily postponed to March 14, 2018. The rule would allow foreign entrepreneurs with U.S. government grants of $100,000, venture capital of $250,000, or a showing that the business would provide a significant public benefit to the U.S. to remain in the country for 30 months, with renewable terms. Presumably, they could become employees of their own corporations in the U.S.  There is a comment period on the final rule, which ends August 10, 2017.

Conclusion

If you are not yet using E-Verify, become familiar with it now. It is mandatory or encouraged in some states (although there may not be any penalties for noncompliance). E-Verify could become mandatory for all employers under federal law in the near future (it’s already mandatory for federal contractors). President Trump’s budget allocates funds to implement mandatory E-Verify. Of course, this cannot go into effect until Congress votes for mandatory E-Verify (see S. 179 ).

Barbara Weltman is a member of SBE Council’s advisory board, and has been a premier consultant for small businesses of every kind for over twenty years. She’s the founder of Big Ideas for Small Business and has written numerous books on small business operations, including J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business, and The Rational Guide to Building Small Business Credit. Follow Barbara on Twitter @BarbaraWeltman

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