October 1998

Workplace Labor Update - INS Releases Much Anticipated Proposed Rule on I-9 Compliance – October 1998

2 min

As any overworked human resources administrator can tell you, Congress made life considerably more difficult for U.S. employers in 1986 by obligating them to verify the employment eligibility of all new employees. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) and implementing regulations promulgated by INS require that employers complete and retain Employment Eligibility Verification forms, "Form I-9," and personally examine a new hire’s documents in order to lawfully employ that new worker. To make sure employers did not take any shortcuts in navigating the paper chase that might—intentionally or not—discriminate against American workers, Congress created a new watchdog office in the Justice Department to keep potentially unscrupulous employers and, it would seem, the INS itself honest. After nearly 12 years, the resulting burden on legitimate employers is still overwhelming.

Congress tried to offer some relief in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA). It amended several provisions of the IRCA employment verification requirements. Briefly, INS recently issued proposed new I-9 regulations and a new I-9 form, the goal of which is to simplify and clarify verification requirements. INS found that the complexity of the original rule increased the likelihood of discrimination. The significant provisions of the proposed rule include: a reduction in the number of acceptable documents that may be used for employment and identity verification, a provision which enables individuals to submit a receipt in lieu of the original document for verification purposes, an explanation of the acceptable completion times for the I-9 form, a discussion of the reverification obligation and procedure, and a reorganization of the outline of the rule itself so that it will be easier to understand and utilize. INS will receive public comments about the proposed rule until April 3, 1998, and there will be an update on the final provisions of this rule in future issues of WLU.

In addition, we will address IRCA Employment Eligibility Verfication Requirements in detail at Venable's annual Labor and Employment Law Update on April 8, 1998.