This fall, a revised I-9 form was finally produced by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS has indicated that effective January 22, 2017, employers must begin to use the revised version of Form I-9.
Between now and January 21, 2017, employers have the option to use the revised form or to continue to use the prior version dated March 8, 2013. But again, starting January 22, 2017, the new form must be used for all new hires and re-verifications.
Form I-9: What You Need to Know
Use of Form I-9 became mandatory with the implementation of The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The purpose of Form I-9 is to require employers to verify the identity and employment authorization of all new hires, including U.S. citizens. The Act prohibits employers from hiring people, including U.S. citizens, for employment in the United States without verifying their identity and employment authorization on Form I-9.
Employees and employers must complete their respective sections of the form within a mandated time period. An employee must attest to employment authorization and must also present the employer with acceptable documents proving identity and employment authorization. The list of acceptable documents is contained within the instruction pages of the form. The employer must then physically examine each document the employee has submitted to determine whether the document appears to be legitimate and must record the document information on Form I-9. Employers must retain Form I-9s for a minimum of three years or one year after the employee’s employment ends, whichever is longer, and make it available for inspection by authorized government officers.
Complete information can be found on the USCIS website. There are also instructions available on the website for completing the revised forms.
Reasons for the Changes
These changes are designed to reduce errors and enhance form completion using a computer. The revised form includes drop-down lists (with helpful abbreviations of the names of documents presented by new hires to complete section 2) and calendars for filling in dates, on-screen instructions for each field, easy access to the full instructions for completing each field, and an option to clear the form and start over. The revised form also contains a dedicated area for including additional information, rather than having to add it in the margins.
Some of the other changes include:
- Section 1 has been clarified to ask for “other last names used” rather than “other names used.”
- A new “Citizenship/Immigration Status” field has been added at the top of section 2, where the employer is expected to write the number corresponding with the citizenship/immigration status selected by the employee in section 1.
- Prompts were added to ensure information is entered correctly.
- The ability to enter multiple preparers and translators is now available.
- A supplemental page has been added for the preparer/translator.
- When the employer prints the completed form, a quick response code is automatically generated.
How Employers Should Proceed
As you can see, there are many changes to the Form I-9. Employers should familiarize themselves with the revised form itself and the instructions prior to January 22, 2017. Employers should consider providing necessary training in mid-January to any staff who will be responsible for Form I-9 completion. This would also be the ideal time to review and update your current Form I-9 policies, procedures and recordkeeping to ensure compliance given the rise in audits.