Form M-274: Guidance for Completing Form I-9

Published: October 26, 2023 by Vijay Thakkar

Form M-274, officially known as the “Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9,” is a valuable resource for employers and HR professionals navigating the complex landscape of employment eligibility verification in the United States. Created by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Form M-274 is designed to assist employers in correctly completing Form I-9, a legal requirement for employers in the U.S. as mandated by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).

On July 28, 2023, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new version of the M-274 Handbook for Employers. This version related to the release of Form I-9 which became mandatory on Nov 1, 2023. This comprehensive guide contains essential information to ensure that the employment eligibility verification process is executed accurately and in compliance with federal regulations.

Key Sections of Form M-274

  1. Introduction: This section provides an overview of the handbook’s purpose and explains the importance of completing Form I-9 correctly.
  2. Completing Form I-9: Form M-274 breaks down the completion process for Form I-9 into a series of steps, making it easy to follow. It covers topics like:
    • Who must complete Form I-9
    • When Form I-9 must be completed
    • How to fill out each section of Form I-9:
      • Section 1: Guidelines for both employees and employers on completing Section 1, which includes personal information, immigration status, and attestation.
      • Section 2: Instructions for employers on verifying the authenticity of the presented documents and completing Section 2, which includes document information and certification.
      • Guidance on when and how to complete the Preparer/Translator Section (Supplement A).
      • Guidance on when and how to complete Section 3 for reverification and rehires (Supplement B), including name changes and document updates.
    • List of acceptable documents for employee verification.
  3. Acceptable Documents: This section details the types of documents that employees can present to prove their identity and work authorization, categorized into List A, List B, and List C for verification, and offers guidance on how to examine and record them on Form I-9.
  4. Specific Instructions for Completing Form I-9 for Remote Hires: Guidance on how to complete Form I-9 for employees who are not physically present at the employer’s location i.e., Remote Document Examination (Optional Alternative Procedure to Physical Document Examination).
  5. Reverification and Rehires: Form M-274 explains:
    • How to handle reverification when an employee’s work authorization expires.
    • How to calculate automatic extensions.
    • Handling employment authorization and reverification of certain categories such as refugees, asylees, TPS, LPRs, H1B, etc.
    • Provides guidance for rehiring employees.
  6. Retention and Storage: Properly retaining and storing completed Form I-9s is critical for compliance. The handbook details the requirements for document retention, inspection, and storage.
  7. Unlawful Discrimination and Penalties: Employers need to be aware of anti-discrimination provisions and the potential penalties for non-compliance. Form M-274 addresses these issues and provides insights into avoiding discrimination while completing Form I-9.
  8. Common Errors and How to Avoid Them: Highlights common mistakes made by employers during the I-9 process and provides guidance on avoiding these errors.
  9. Completing Form I-9 for Minors and Employees with Disabilities: Special considerations and guidance for verifying the eligibility of minors and employees with disabilities.
  10. Frequently Asked Questions: The handbook includes a section of commonly asked questions and answers to address common issues and concerns.
  11. Contact Information: USCIS contact information for employers to seek assistance and clarification on I-9-related issues.

Benefits of Using the Form

  1. Ensures Compliance: Form M-274 serves as a reliable tool to help employers and HR professionals understand their obligations and responsibilities when verifying the employment eligibility of new hires.
  2. Reduces Errors: By following the guidance provided in Form M-274, employers can reduce the risk of errors on Form I-9, which could lead to legal consequences or fines.
  3. Saves Time: The handbook simplifies the often-complex process of employment eligibility verification, making it more efficient for both employers and employees.
  4. Training Resource: The M-274 Handbook serves as an excellent training resource for HR Staff and new employees involved in the I-9 verification process.

Form M-274 is an indispensable resource for employers in the United States. It helps ensure that the process of verifying the employment eligibility of new hires is carried out correctly and in full compliance with immigration laws. By using this comprehensive guide, employers can navigate the intricacies of Form I-9 with confidence, reduce errors, and ultimately maintain a legal and compliant workforce.

Staying informed about the latest updates and revisions to the handbook is crucial, as immigration regulations and guidelines may change over time. Regularly consulting the most up-to-date version of Form M-274 and seeking legal counsel when needed will help your organization remain compliant and avoid potential penalties and legal issues.

Simplify employment eligibility verification with an automated I-9 verification software fully integrated with E-Verify and ensure constant I-9 compliance and reduced fines and hiring costs.

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