Navigating the New Terrain: Understanding the Impact of the DOL’s Independent Contractor Rule on I-9 Compliance

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) recent revision of the criteria for classifying workers as independent contractors or employees under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) marks a significant shift in the regulatory landscape. This change, effective March 11, 2024, rescinds the employer-friendly test established during the Trump administration, replacing it with a more employee-oriented approach. As businesses adapt to this new rule, a pertinent question arises: How does this alteration affect the requirement to complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for workers?

Understanding the Independent Contractor Rule Change

The core of the DOL’s new rule lies in its approach to distinguishing between employees and independent contractors. This classification is crucial, as it determines a host of legal obligations for employers, including minimum wage, overtime pay, and, relevant to our discussion, the requirement to verify employment authorization through Form I-9.

Under U.S. immigration law, employers are mandated to complete an I-9 form for each employee they hire in the United States to verify the individual’s identity and authorization to work. This requirement does not extend to independent contractors, a category of workers that has now come under renewed scrutiny with the DOL’s rule change.

The Implications for I-9 Verification

The DOL’s more stringent criteria for classifying workers as independent contractors means that some individuals previously categorized as contractors may now be considered employees. Consequently, businesses may find themselves with a greater number of workers for whom they must complete I-9 forms.

This shift necessitates a careful reevaluation of worker classifications by employers to ensure compliance with both the FLSA and immigration laws. Misclassification can lead to significant legal and financial penalties, making it imperative for employers to accurately assess the status of their workers in light of the new rule.

Steps for Employers

  1. Reassess Worker Classifications: Employers should conduct a thorough review of their workforce to determine if any individuals classified as independent contractors under the previous criteria should now be reclassified as employees under the new rule.
  1. Update I-9 Compliance Practices: For any worker reclassified as an employee, employers must ensure that an I-9 form is properly completed within three days of the individual’s start date. This may require implementing new processes or training for HR personnel to handle the increased scope of I-9 verifications.
  1. Monitor Ongoing Developments: Given the historical fluctuations in the DOL’s stance on worker classification, businesses should stay informed about any further changes to federal regulations or guidance that could impact their compliance obligations.


The DOL’s new rule on independent contractors introduces a critical juncture for employers, especially concerning their I-9 verification responsibilities. While the rule does not alter the fundamental requirement that only employees (and not independent contractors) must be verified for employment authorization, it does change the landscape in which these determinations are made. By proactively adapting to these changes, employers can ensure they remain on solid ground with respect to both labor and immigration law compliance.

For businesses navigating these complex waters, consulting with legal experts in employment and immigration law can provide tailored advice and strategies to meet these new challenges head-on. As the regulatory environment continues to evolve, staying ahead of these changes will be key to maintaining compliance and protecting your business from potential liabilities.

If you or your family members have any questions about how immigration and nationality laws in the United States may affect you, or if you want to access additional information about immigration and nationality laws in the United States or Canada, please do not hesitate to contact the immigration and nationality lawyers at NPZ Law Group. You can reach us by emailing or by calling us at 201-670-0006 extension 104. We also invite you to visit our website at for more information.