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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily

M-274 Revisited: Panel Discusses The Revised I-9 Handbook

by Dan Brown and John Fay

[Editor's Note: today's blog is co-authored by Dan Brown of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP] Many people find I-9 compliance to be an extremely dry topic, especially in comparison with the larger issues of immigration policy and enforcement. It’s also a fairly complex area of law, which involves several government agencies and consists of guidance from various memoranda, proposed regulations, and the ultimate treatise on I-9 compliance, the M-274 Employer Handbook. It’s no wonder that many human resources (HR) professionals and hiring managers have so many unanswered questions on how to complete this innocent-looking one page form. To address this need, we held a rather unique webinar on Tuesday to discuss the changes to the M-274, which was most recently revised and released by the USCIS last month. Due to the overwhelming number of registrants, we weren’t able to accommodate as many people as we would have liked (in case you had any doubts, I-9 compliance is apparently an extremely hot topic!) For those who couldn’t attend, here are just a few of the major points discussed:

The Thursday Rule

As previously discussed on this blog, the Handbook clarifies that employers must review the employee’s documents and fully complete Section 2 of the I-9 within three business days of the first day of work for pay but not including the actual date the employee starts work. The classic example: if employee begins work on Monday, must complete Section 2 by Thursday. If you’re using an electronic I-9 system, you’ll want to ensure that the deadline is properly tracked through a queue or dashboard, and that the system has appropriate checks and balances to ensure timely completion.

Interruptions of Employment

The general rule is that a new Form I-9 is required whenever a hire takes place, unless rehiring an employee within three years of the initial hire date. However, if there is an interruption and the employee is continuing in his or her employment, a new I-9 is not required. The handbook provides many examples as well as factors that you can consider to make this determination. When using an electronic I-9 system, make sure you have the ability to transfer the I-9 (or employee) from one distinct unit to another and that appropriate view/edit permissions are in place.

Name changes and misspellings

The I-9 Handbook clarifies that employers are not required to update the Form I-9 when an employee changes his or her name, although they are certainly free to do so. Employers can also accept documents with different names as long as the verifier can still reasonably determine that it relates to the person presenting them. Employers with electronic I-9 systems should make sure they can record name changes (preferably in section 3) and do so in a way where they are not tempted to request work authorization documentation or anything else which might be considered document abuse.

Can we get a one-page M-274 to match our one-page I-9?

No, not exactly. But, we are happy to announce a one-page cheat-sheet (just a figure of speech, mind you) which highlights the major new guidance in the M-274 handbook. By consulting this sheet, you can hopefully get a nice bird eye’s view of the changes and consult the M-274 directly for more detailed information. To request this guide, please click on the following image and complete the fields where indicated.

Request one-page M-274 Handout

Originally published by LawLogix Group INC. Reprinted by permission.


About The Author

Dan Brown is a Partner in Berry Appleman & Leiden’s Washington, D.C. office. Mr. Brown has extensive experience counseling corporate clients on business immigration and compliance and enforcement matters. Mr. Brown has held a number of senior positions within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prior to entering private practice. From May 2005 to August 2006 he served as Counselor to the Assistant Secretary and then Director of the Office of Policy and Planning at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Mr. Brown also served as the first director of ICE’s Secure Border Initiative Program Management Office. While at ICE, he was responsible for policy relating to worksite enforcement, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), detention and removal issues, as well as oversight of high-profile immigration removal cases including national security cases. Mr. Brown also served as the co-chair of the Federal Enforcement and Corporate Compliance team while working with a national immigration law firm. Mr. Brown previously worked in the DHS General Counsel’s Office, and became the most senior lawyer in that office to focus solely on immigration issues. As Deputy Associate General Counsel for Immigration, he advised senior DHS leadership, the White House, and other federal agencies on all aspects of immigration law. Mr. Brown also reviewed and coordinated the work of 700 immigration attorneys in the Department’s legal program. Mr. Brown began his career as a trial attorney with the INS in New York City, and also held several positions in the INS General Counsel’s Office.

John Fay is an immigration attorney with a unique background in designing technology for HR compliance. With ten years of experience, John has advised corporations, educational institutions, and individuals on a variety of U.S. immigration and employment eligibility issues. In addition to immigration practice, John designed and managed his firm’s proprietary web-based immigration management system, which featured a fully multilingual interface for international organizations.In his current role, John serves as Vice President of Products and Services & General Counsel at LawLogix, where he is responsible for overseeing product design and functionality while ensuring compliance with rapidly changing immigration and employment eligibility rules.John is a frequent speaker on corporate immigration compliance and case management technology, presenting at various conferences as well as through online webinars. He served as a contributing author to ILW.com’s The Immigration Compliance Book (2009-2010 Edition) on the subject of using software to manage Form I-9 and E-Verify compliance.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.


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