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Federal Law Alert: New i-9 Form

Posted by Eric Daniel on Nov 16 2016

The new I-9 form was released yesterday, November 14. What does that mean, exactly? If you'll recall, I-9 forms serve the purpose of verifying the identity and employment authorization status of individuals hired for employment in the United States.

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It may now be used, although the old form will remain valid through January 21, 2017. After that date, you must use the new form. We recommend you train all employees who are responsible for completing the I-9 and start to use it for new hires as soon as possible.


A few important notes about this new form:

  1. While the new I-9 is intended to be completed as a fillable PDF to reduce errors, it should not be confused with an electronic I-9. An employer must still print the completed I-9, obtain the appropriate signatures (which are not fillable via PDF), monitor reverifications, and retain the form for the proper retention period. Employers and employees may choose to complete any or all of the form by typing into the fillable PDF or using a pen to fill out sections after the document has been printed. Documents that are partly printed and partly handwritten are acceptable. If using an electronic version of the I-9, employers must still comply with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ criteria to be certain of the integrity of the electronic system. 

  2. Do not reverify current employees due to the new form. Use the new I-9 only for newly hired employees and when you are required to reverify temporary work authorization. Additionally, all previous forms must still be retained for the proper retention period. The form must be retained for as long as the employee works for you, plus three years after their hire date or one year after their termination date, whichever is later.

  3. To download the form from the USCIS website (uscis.gov/i-9), right click on the link to the new form—“Form I-9 (PDF, 535 KB)” – and select the “Save link as” option. This will allow you to save the PDF and open it in a PDF reader. Clicking to open it in a web browser (as you would with most links) will result in an error page.

Notable changes to the form itself include the following:

  1. When completed electronically, there are prompts to ensure information is entered correctly. For example, the form will validate that the correct number of digits are entered for an employee’s Social Security number and various expiration dates. Calendars and drop-down lists also include electronic assistance.

  2. The form includes on-screen instructions for each field as well as easy access to the full instructions.

  3. In Section 1, employees must only provide other last names used, as opposed to all other names used. 

  4. Below an employee’s signature line, they must indicate via checkbox whether a Preparer and/or Translator was used to complete Section 1. Multiple preparers/translators can now be entered into Section 1 if needed.

  5. There is a dedicated area for including additional information (when required) rather than having to add it in the margins.

  6. In Section 2, employers will find a new “Citizenship/Immigration Status” field in the first line with numbers one through four. These numbers correlate directly to the employee’s selected citizenship or immigration status entered in Section 1. If you use the fillable version of the form, the corresponding digit will pre-populate. If you use a paper version, enter the corresponding digit in this field. These fields (the top line of Section 2) help to ensure that the two pages of an employee’s Form I-9 remain together.

The USCIS has yet to release a new Handbook for Employers (M-274) and advises employers to follow the new form instructions for the most up-to-date information. The updated instructions are also available for download on uscis.gov/i-9.

We will be creating materials on the new I-9, so watch the HRSC in the coming weeks.

Topics: Employee Benefits

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