PLEASE NOTE: On Monday, February 2, 2009, after this bulletin was published, the Obama Administration issued a notice that it was suspending use of the new I-9 form until April 3, 2009. Until further notice, employers should use the old I-9 form. Reports have circulated on the internet that employers who continue to use the new I-9 form after February 2 will be subject to fines and penalties. Although we recommend using the old form until further notice, there is no indication that employers who use the new form will be penalized. Constangy will keep you posted on all developments.

For a printer-friendly copy of this Immigration Dispatch, click here.

Are you ready? As far as we know at this time, starting next Monday (February 2, 2009), the new I-9 form will be the only version that employers will be allowed to use. The new form is available now, and here is a summary of the most important changes:

* The new form is to be used for new hires, and for re-verifying current employees when re-verifying is necessary.

* All documents presented must be valid and unexpired.

* Form I-766 will be the only Employment Authorization Document accepted as a List A document.

* Foreign passports containing certain machine-readable immigrant visas have been added to the List A documents.

As many of our readers know, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on January 20, 2009, directed the heads of federal agencies to suspend implementation of some new and pending regulations issued in the latter days of the Bush Administration. It is not clear whether this directive applies to the mandatory use of the new I-9 form; however, the low-risk approach would be to begin using the new form no later than Monday, February 2. Constangy will keep you posted on the status of labor and employment regulations issued by the Bush Administration as developments warrant.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will soon update its Handbook for Employers Instructions for Completing the Form I-9 (Publication M-274) and will post the updated version on its website.

Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP has counseled employers on labor and employment law matters, exclusively, since 1946. A “Go To” Law Firm in Corporate Counsel and Fortune Magazine, it represents Fortune 500 corporations and small companies across the country. Its attorneys are consistently rated as top lawyers in their practice areas by publications such as Chambers USA, Super Lawyers, and Top One Hundred Labor Attorneys in the United States. More than 100 lawyers partner with clients to provide cost-effective legal services and sound preventive advice to enhance the employer-employee relationship. Offices are located in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas and California. For more information, visit www.constangy.com.

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