FRIDAY FLURRY: UPDATES ON NEWS FROM THIS WEEK

Posted in: Employment Law by Dowling Aaron on

ALERT: USCIS RELEASES NEW FORM I-9

By: Manuel E. Ignacio

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) released a new Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 today.  The new Form can be downloaded here and bears the edition date “(Rev. 10/21/2019)” in the lower left corner.

According to a notice published today in the Federal Register (available here), employers should start using the new Form as of January 31, 2020.  However, there is a grace period during which the previous version (Rev. 07/17/2017 N) may be used until April 30, 2020, to give employers time to make necessary updates and adjust their business processes. After April 30, 2020, the prior version will be obsolete and employers may only use the new version.

The new Form makes only minor changes to the previous version.  If using the fillable Form I-9 online, the “Country of Issuance” field in Section 1, and the foreign passport “Issuing Authority” field in Section 2, reflect the new country names of Eswatani and North Macedonia.

The Instructions for Form I-9 have been updated to provide clarification on acceptable documents and who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer.  The Instructions also updated the USCIS website address, the DHS Privacy Notice, and the process for requesting the paper Form I-9.

A Spanish language version of the Form is available for use in Puerto Rico only.  Apart from employers in Puerto Rico, employers must use and retain the English version, but the Spanish version may be used as a translation tool. For more information visit here.

COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:

Employers should begin using the new Form I-9 as soon as possible.  Employers who fail to use the current version (Rev. 10/21/2019) after April 30, 2020 may be subject to penalties as enforced by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Employers do not need to complete the new Form I-9 for current employees who already have a properly completed Form I-9 on file, unless reverification applies.  However, employers should use caution when re-verifying employees due to the potential risk of unintended discrimination claims.  If you have any uncertainty about whether or not to re-verify, contact the employment law experts at The Saqui Law Group, a Division of Dowling Aaron, Incorporated.

United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Deal Just Signed Off by the President

By: Rebecca Schach

In a bipartisan effort, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act (“USMCA”) passed in the Senate last week and just left the Oval Office with signature.  As a refresher, USMCA is a trade agreement between the three countries to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that has been in place since 1994. Although critics argue that USMCA doesn’t tackle climate change or provide sufficient environmental protections, lawmakers and experts alike agree that USMCA offers much-needed certainty for companies and workers in all three countries. As for agriculture, all food and agricultural products that had zero tariffs under NAFTA will remain at zero tariffs under USMCA. In a victory for our dairy industry, Canada will end a pricing system that has limited the import of milk ingredients opening the market for our U.S. dairy industry. Canada will be the last of the three countries to vote on USMCA as their legislature has been out on holiday until this week.

OFLC Announces Decommissioning Schedule for the iCERT System

By: Rebecca Schach

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) under the Department of Labor has officially announced the decommissioning schedule for its online iCERT System Labor Certification Registry. Previously, the iCERT System has served as the online portal to labor decisions in the PERM, LCA, H-2 visa, and prevailing wage programs until fall 2019 when the OFLC rolled out its Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) System. Although the new FLAG System has already suffered rolling blackout dates for technical fixes and enhanced features, the iCERT System will be decommissioned effective February 28, 2020. Employers and other interested stakeholders are counseled to obtain copies of labor certification records or other information maintained by the iCERT System before the effective decommissioning date as a best practice.

The GIG is Not Up, Yet.

By: Adrian Hoppes

Earlier this week several hundred people gathered on the steps of the Capitol to protest against Assembly Bill 5 (“AB5”). Many protesters claimed that AB5 impacted, if not eliminated, their livelihoods. The crowd brought bipartisan support from all walks of life. The following trades were amongst some represented, dancers, singers, truck drivers, massage therapists, sign language interpreters, freelance journalists, and musicians. The gathering was titled “Rally To Repeal AB5” and was sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin Kiley and Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez. These groups are supporting Assembly Bill 1928 a new assembly bill being introduced to overturn AB5. In addition, many trades will be introducing additional bills to exempt their specific trade. All in all, it looks like we have not heard the last of the AB5 protests, and we will continue to monitor the legislation closely and report on any successful repeals or exemptions.

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