Form I-9

The Flexibility of the I-9 Form is Ending!

By June 7, 2021 No Comments

The I-9 at a glance

An I-9 Form is used to verify an employee’s identity and eligibility for employment in the United States. U.S. Employers are required to complete the I-9 Form for anyone they hire in this country, including citizens and non-citizens. Therefore, the I-9 Form must be completed by both parties– employee and employer. Failing to complete and file a completed I-9 Form properly can have serious legal consequences for the employee and the businesses they work for.

The I-9 confirms your identity, residency status, and eligibility for gainful employment in the US— but the form itself does not prevent you from earning money without an employment contract. In fact, you should expect to be paid for any work that you do for someone, with or without a completed I-9. The Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) maintains that an employer must pay anyone who performs work for them, regardless of a signed and completed I-9, is unauthorized to work in the U.S., or if the employee is terminated or leaves their job before completing an I-9 Form.

What’s changing on the I-9 Form?

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website: ‘On Jan. 31, 2020, USCIS published the Form I-9 Federal Register notice announcing a new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification Office of Management and Budget approved on Oct. 21, 2019. This new version contains minor changes to the form and its instructions. Therefore, employers should begin using this updated form as of Jan. 31, 2020’.

Changes on the I-9 Form included:

  • Clarification about who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer
  • More strict standards for acceptable documents regarding Form I-9
  • Updates for requesting paper Forms relevant to the I-9

What Next on the I-9 Form?

What does this mean for you? If you are a gig worker, seasonal laborer, or migrant worker, the new standards can complicate your hiring and payment processes. The implication here is that the USCIS is cracking down on employers and employees who don’t properly complete an I-9 Form or continually utilize or perform labor that skirts FLSA stipulations. Under the new guidelines, gig workers and employers are expected to adapt.

Workers are still protected under the FLSA stipulations but should expect to complete the Form I-9 for future gigs or temporary work. While this might provide a few additional headaches and hoops for employers and employees to jump through, there are some things you can do to mitigate the loss of flexibility.

How Can Organizations Plan Ahead

The simplest method to avoid complications from these new guidelines would be to restrict your employment/gig work searches to individuals and companies that require a completed Form I-9 for employment. Similarly, employers can also limit any hassles with the new Form by requiring all prospective employees to submit a completed I-9. There is no better defense than a strong offense, and ensuring you are compliant with USCIS requirements is certainly a great place to start.

Although, that is not to say that an employer cannot hire gig workers or temporary employees for odd jobs. The Fair Labor and Standards Act is still applicable. If you work by the job, you should still expect to be paid. Employment of any stripe is protected under FLSA standards; however, given the new USCIS Form I-9 guidelines, gig workers and temporary employees should contact a USCIS representative to ascertain how the 2020 changes will affect them.

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