The United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), formerly INS until becoming part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has issued a new form I-9, which is used by employers to verify that potential employees have the legal right to work in the United States.

The form has been revised to comply with new USCIS regulations concerning which documents can be used for verification. Out are any expired documents (which implausibly were acceptable until these new regs), and in is a new Passport Card (which can also be used in lieu of a full passport when traveling to and from Canada or Mexico, but just by car).

The new form, which goes into effect Feb. 2, is a five-page document, and in the middle of the document is one entire page of white with one lone, shaded box called “Paperwork Reduction Act.” The box advises users that the form will take, on average, 12 minutes to fill out, and then it asks that suggestions on improving the process be sent to a certain address.

One whole page of paper for one paragraph of information in the name of paperwork reduction!

I quickly gave a call to a compliance and labor law researcher at Personnel Concepts by the name of Dave Daniels. We both got a chuckle out of that virtually blank page, and he said he had called USCIS about the form (just released on Tuesday) to see whether that reduction-notice page needs to be submitted with the form. He was told no. He also asked why the new I-9 had an expiration date of July 2009, and the USCIS person expressed surprise at the early expiration date and said this was the first time he’d noticed it!

“Our government hard at work,” we both concluded.