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National Restaurant Association - Proposed revisions to I-9 helpful, but more info needed

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Proposed revisions to I-9 helpful, but more info needed

The National Restaurant Association told the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that proposed revisions to the Employment Eligibility Verification, or I-9, form would make the document clearer to understand and more user-friendly.

The association, however, also said that some of the revisions have raised some concerns and, as a result, it has asked for guidance on how the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, would enforce compliance of the new reporting requirements as well as clarification on what it would consider a violation. In regulatory comments filed Oct. 15, the NRA requested information about such revisions as the optional inclusion of the employee's e-mail address and telephone number on the I-9 form.

"Employers in our industry want to comply with the law and successfully complete the employment verification process for all of its employees," said Angelo Amador, the NRA's vice president of labor and workforce policy. "We urge DHS and USCIS to work with our industry and issue further clarifications regarding the changes it has made to the I-9 form so our employers can continue to be in compliance with the law."

Amador also noted that the association appreciated the addition of boxes indicated where the employer and employee are required to sign the I-9 form. The proposed changes, he said, make it clearer to see where each party must sign, which should result in fewer errors and violations.

Additionally, the revised form would now go from one to two pages, "allowing the employer and employee to complete information on separate pages - with a clear differentiation between the two," he said. This will "provide greater clarity on who is responsible for providing the required information."

Though the NRA applauded the revised form's expanded instructions, Ryan Kearney, manager of labor and workforce policy, said there still are several areas that could cause confusion and result in potential violations for the employer, even if both answer the questions correctly and in good faith. He added that the NRA is asking for clarification regarding employer responsibility in updating employees' e-mail addresses and telephone numbers, which could change during their periods of employment.

"We thank DHS and USCIS for the beneficial changes that have been made to the I-9 form and ask for additional clarification to be issued on ICE's enforcement priorities, violations and inclusion of the employees' e-mail addresses and telephone numbers," Kearney said.

Register for "Compliance: Preparing for the New I-9 Form," an NRA-sponsored webinar, Nov. 14, from 3-4 p.m. The program will be moderated by attorney Marketa Lindt of Sidley Austin LLP, who leads that firm's I-9 compliance group and represents and counsels employers on these issues. She will address the specific changes to the old I-9 form, how to comply with the new requirements and what traps to avoid.

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