Thursday, April 2, 2009

Are you ready? New I-9 requirements take effect tomorrow, April 3

The new requirements regarding completing the Form I-9, to verify employment eligibility in the US, take effect tomorrow, April 3rd. Starting tomorrow, employers must use the new I-9 form to verify new hires and to reverify existing hires. The list of acceptable documents that an employee can present will change tomorrow also, primarily by eliminating expired documents from the list. USCIS has issued a Q&A document on the new requirements, available here. As the Q&A explains:
The new rule:
• Requires that all documents presented during the verification process be unexpired;
• Eliminates List A identity and employment authorization documentation Forms I-688, I-688A, and I-688B (Temporary Resident Card and outdated Employment Authorization Cards);
• Adds foreign passports containing certain machine-readable immigrant visas to List A;
• Adds to List A as evidence of identity and employment authorization valid passports for citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), along with Form I-94 or Form I-94A indicating nonimmigrant admission under the Compact of Free Association Between the United States and the FSM or RMI ; and
• Makes technical updates.
The new I-9 and instructions are here. The updated USCIS Handbook for Employers (M-274) is here.

Q&A on I-9.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

H-1B "cap gap" Fact Sheet for employers issued by ICE

The Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division has just issued a Fact Sheet on the "cap-gap" extension of employment authorization for F-1 students.

The cap gap relief applies to F-1 students who (a) are working pursuant to Optional Practical Training; (b) have F-1 status that will expire more than 60 days before 10/1/09; and (c) have been approved for H-1B status to start on 10/1/09. Without cap-gap relief, these students would fall out of status before 10/1/09, so would need to leave the US and return once the H-1B status could start. This could mean a gap of months if the F-1 status expired in early summer.

The cap gap provision automatically extends the F-1 status and OPT, if applicable. As the Fact Sheet explains:

The cap-gap extension of OPT is automatic for eligible students. A student does not file an application for the extension or receive a new EAD to cover the additional time. The only proof of continued employment authorization currently available to an affected student is an updated Form I-20 showing an extension of OPT, on page 3. This document serves as proof of continued employment authorization.

The automatic extension of an F-1 student's duration of status and employment authorization is terminated upon the rejection, denial, or revocation of the H-1B petition filed on the F-1 student's behalf.

The Fact Sheet explains the employer's and student's responsibilities regarding getting this cap-gap extension. For more information on this provision, see here.

For information on the H-1B cap: