The new I-9 form: What veterinarians need to know

The new I-9 form: What veterinarians need to know

Learn what this important worker documentation means for your practice.
Jul 01, 2013

This spring, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released an updated version of its Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. And as of May 8, 2013, employers are required to start using it. The updated I-9 form is intended to be more user-friendly and includes detailed instructions for both employers and employees. It also includes changes to current sections and the addition of new sections, all in an attempt to eliminate common errors and pitfalls when filling out the forms. So what does this mean for your practice? Continue reading to find out.

What is employment eligibility verification?

First, let's cover some I-9 basics. Beginning in 1986, the Immigration Control and Reform Act was enacted to help prevent illegal aliens from gaining employment in the United States. Employers, regardless of size, are required to obtain documentation from every new hire in order to verify that employee's eligibility for employment in the United States. The term "employee" refers to full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal staff members but does not pertain to independent contractors. You do not have to obtain I-9 documentation from contract workers.

An employer must review the documents presented by each employee and attest to his or her belief that the documents are genuine by signing the I-9 form. Watch for expiration dates on documents and reject any document that doesn't seem authentic. You are not, however, responsible for guaranteeing the authenticity of the documents.

Completing the I-9 form

Employees must be given the I-9 form upon hire and complete Section 1 (with or without the assistance of a translator) on their first day of work. While a Spanish version of the form is available, it is only to be used as a reference for Spanish-speaking employees. The English version of the form must be on file with the employer for all employees, even if the employee's primary language is not English. By completing Section 1 of the form, the employee is affirming that he or she is eligible to work in the United States.

Section 2 must be completed by the employer within three days of the employee's hire date. A detailed list of acceptable documents is included on the I-9 form. Documents are divided into three categories. Documents in List A satisfy the requirement to establish both identity and employment authorization. If an employee supplies a document from this list, only one document is required. List B contains documents that establish identity, while List C includes documents that establish employment authorization. A document from List B and a document from List C must be provided together to fulfill the requirements of the I-9 form if nothing from List A is available.

Section 3 pertains to reverifications and rehires. It's used only if a worker's documentation has expired or the employee is rehired within a three-year period after termination. You also have the option of completing a new I-9 form for the rehired employee. With the updated I-9 form now in use, use that for a rehired employee rather than Section 3 of the former I-9 form.

An I-9 must also be kept on file for the practice owner unless the practice is a sole proprietorship. Sole proprietors don't need to keep I-9 forms for themselves, but they do need them for employees, just like any other veterinary practice entity type.