News - February 2011

New Version of the USCIS Handbook for Employers

The USCIS has issued a new Handbook for Employers (Form M-274), which gives guidance for employers reviewing whether documents are acceptable for completion of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The handbook, which was issued on January 12, 2011, should be used in conjunction with the current version of the I-9 form, which was last revised effective April 3, 2009.

The new Handbook makes changes to the documents that a portable H-1B worker can show as evidence of work authorization. Previously, the worker needed to show the Form I-797 Receipt Notice for the petition by the new employer. The new handbook permits the worker to show a passport and the I-94 form issued for his or her prior job position. In the section regarding List B work authorization, the employer must write “AC-21” and the date that the new petition was submitted to USCIS. This permits the employee to document a start date much earlier than before, and avoid waiting weeks for the receipt notice to come back from USCIS.

The new Handbook also describes the law that permits employees with pending H-1B or L-1 petitions to extend status to continue to work for up to 240 days while the case is pending with USCIS. The Handbook advises employers to keep documents to support work authorization in these cases, such as a copy of the new I-129 petition and evidence that the petition was filed with USCIS.

The Handbook also suggests, but does not require, employers to update Form I-9 when an employee changes his or her name.

The new Handbook does not change the standard I-9 employment verification procedure, by which employers should not require that their employees show any specific documents as evidence of identity and employment authorization.


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