Form I-9

USCIS Updates I-9 Handbook for Employers [M-274]

Published On
May 8, 2020
Read Time
4.5 Minutes
OnBlick Inc

USCIS has released updates in Form I-9 Handbook for Employers (M-274), which are in immediate effect. These updates are timed rightly as the new version of Form I-9 is out since the beginning of May.

The recent updates in M-274 include clarifications about authorized representative, automatic EAD extensions, and Cap-gap. This update is a welcoming change as the COVID-19 pandemic has increased remote employment to a greater extent.

Here is the update about who can be an authorized representative

“You may designate, hire, or contract with any person you choose to complete, update or make corrections to Section 2 or 3 on your behalf. This person is known as your authorized representative. The authorized representative must perform all the employer duties described in this handbook, and complete, sign and date Section 2 or 3 on your behalf. You are liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations of the employer sanctions laws, committed by your authorized representative.”

“Employees cannot act as authorized representatives for their own Form I-9. Therefore, employees cannot complete, update or make corrections to Section 2 or 3 for themselves or attest to the authenticity of the documentation they present.”

Automatic EAD extensions

Sections 4.4 and 6.4.2: Revised guidance to clarify that employers should enter expiration date changes based on automatic extensions of documents in the Additional Information field in Section 2 and eliminated instructions to have the employee cross out and initial information in the “Alien authorized to work until” expiration date field in Section 1. This ensures greater legibility during Form I-9 inspections.

In brief, employees who apply to extend their Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) are automatically granted 180-day extensions. Also, persons with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) may receive automatic extensions of work permits if the government extends their TPS.

In the prior I-9 handbook, employees were instructed to cross out the employment expiration date in Section 1 of Form I-9 and replace it with the new expiration date. The new I-9 handbook eliminates this, and instead, requires employers to update the employment expiration date in form I-9’s section-2.

Guidance on Cap-Gap requirements

Cap-Gap states that an employer can submit a petition for an H-1B change of status for a foreign-born student before their OPT work permit expires. If the petition is selected in the H-1B lottery, the student’s OPT is automatically extended while the petition is pending. Once the H-1B petition and change of status are approved, the student is authorized to continue employment until September 30th of that year. Upon H-1B petition and the change of status approval, OPT is automatically converted to H-1B status on October 1st.

USCIS has updated a few guidelines in I-9 handbook about the Cap-gap rules and here is the summary.

Section 6.4.2:
Revised cap-gap extension document requirements to better align with regulations. Employers will enter the receipt number from Form I-797C, Notice of Action as the employee’s Document Number in Section 2. Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, is no longer required.

According to this, employers have to reverify Form I-9 for F-1 students in the cap-gap period to record the student’s expired F-1 OPT EAD. Along with recording the Form I-797 receipt notice for H-1B cap petition. Employers must enter the I-797 receipt number as a document number in I-9’s section-2.

These are the major updates in the new Form I-9 handbook (M-274). However, there are other minor updates, and here is a summary of all such updates:

New Content

Major Clarifications

Though when federal agencies try to ease up the Form I-9 completion process, it remains as the most complex form. OnBlick can be your go-to solution to complete, update, and retain your I-9s digitally.

OnBlick’s Electronic Form I-9 aims at ensuring organizational compliance by updating the Form I-9 as per regulations. Thus, making it easier for employers to follow and stay up to date. Be it for local or remote hires, complete Form I-9s with ease.

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