Recently, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued guidance due to the wildfires in Maui, Hawaii. This notice addressed local employers’ concerns with the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) and E-Verify. The guidance would help affected employers and employees meet I-9 requirements as they recover from the damage.
Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires employers to complete Form I-9s. This process documents the verification of every new employee’s identity and work authorization. In addition, they must complete the I-9 process within three business days of the employee’s first working day. Despite the federally recognized disaster, the laws still require affected employers to fill out and retain Form I-9s for each employee.
However, employers may accept certain receipts from employees in place of lost or damaged documents. This exception is for those affected by the wildfires and whose employment lasts longer than three business days. Receipts will satisfy Form I-9’s requirement for a valid List A, B, or C document. It will remain valid for 90 days from the starting employment date.
Acceptable receipts include:
Employees must present the replacement document for the issued receipt by the end of the 90 days. If they cannot, they may offer an alternative acceptable documentation. In addition, these requirements and receipts apply to re-verifying an employee’s employment authorization. Employers cannot create new E-Verify cases for instances in which an employee presents a receipt for a lost, stolen, or damaged document.
Instead, they must wait until the employee presents the replacement document or other acceptable documentation. After three business days of an employee’s first day of employment, E-Verify will prompt employers to provide a reason for the delay. Once this happens, they may select “Other” for a reason for the delay and enter “Receipt Provided.” Awaiting actual document” in the provided field.
Employers must create a new Form I-9 for employees with damaged or destroyed I-9 records. Employers must include an annotation in the Additional Information field when doing this. It should state, “Original Form I-9 destroyed in 2023 Hawaii wildfire; replacement created MM/DD/YYYY.”
Employers should incorporate an electronic I-9 management system to ensure continued compliance. In addition, the system can include E-Verify integration for those using the government website. Furthermore, this system can provide step-by-step guidance, electronic storage for forms and documentation, and other features to keep employers compliant.
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