New I-9 Form
The effective date of April 3, 2009, now has passed for usage of the new I-9 form. Contractors now must complete an I-9 for all new hires, whether foreign or U.S. citizens, verifying their identity and work eligibility. Fines for violations on the forms can run $110 to $330 per worker. USCIS made several major changes in the I-9 form, including eliminating expired passports as a valid List A document that U.S. citizen workers can use when hired. For a copy of the new I-9 form and instructions, click on http://tinyurl.com/ct2ox7.
I led a mini-webinar briefing on March 23 and 26, “The Nuts and Bolts” of Completing the New I-9 Form.” Topics discussed included:
- What’s new and what’s old with the April 3, 2009, form
- No more expired documents?
- What’s changed on the list of acceptable A, B, C documents
- What about receipts? Re-verifications? Handling H-1B transfers/extensions?
- Who pays the fine if the employee fills in Section 1 wrong?
- Bonus: friendly quiz on handling the difficult documents.
See a transcript of the webinar at www.williamsmullen.com/services/SeviceDetail.aspx?service=136&view=events.
H-1B Application Deadline
The filing deadline of April 1 for new H-1B visas for the 2010 Fiscal Year has passed. The H-1B visa program is used by U.S. businesses to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in a specialized field and a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. The current annual cap on the H-1B category is 65,000 with some exceptions.
Upgraded biometric technology at U.S. Ports of Entry
Expect new fingerprint requirements when entering the United States. On Jan. 15, DHS announced the installation of upgraded biometric technology at major U.S. ports of entry. The upgraded technology includes a 10-fingerprint collection standard. Collecting 10 fingerprints increases fingerprint matching accuracy and reduces the possibility that the system will misidentify an international visitor. International visitors to the United States will start to see the upgraded technology immediately.
There are more complications on the northern border for you and your employees. Effective June 1, 2009, all U.S. and Canadian citizens must present an approved travel document to enter the United States. The approved documents include a passport, a passport card, a NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST trusted traveler program card or a state- or province-issued enhanced driver’s license. Travelers under age 16 need to present only a birth certificate or alternative proof of citizenship. See http://tinyurl.com/BorderTrouble. Expect substantial delays this summer as these new rules take effect.
E-verify for federal contractors
The federal government agreed to postpone the implementation of new regulations requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to begin using the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ E-verify system until May 21, 2009. A clause will be contained in federal contracts and solicitations issued after May 21, 2009, requiring the contractor – regardless of size – to participate in E-verify, if the period of performance is longer than 120 days and valued above $100,000. The same clause also will be required in subcontracts that are more than $3,000 for services or construction. Companies awarded a contract with the federal government will be required to enroll in E-verify within 30 days of the contract award date. E-verify will apply to new hires and existing employees assigned to federal contracts that are authorized to legally work in the United States.
The Keelen Group will continue to monitor all legislative developments concerning immigration reform throughout the 111th Congress.