On November 14, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification (version 11/14/2016). All employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each employee to verify his or her employment authorization and identity.
Employers should begin using the new Form I-9 immediately. However, employers may continue to use the previous version (version 03/08/2013) until January 21, 2017. Beginning January 22, 2017, employers must use the new version. The new Form I-9 will have an expiration date of August 31, 2019. Employers should continue to follow existing storage and retention rules for all of their previously completed Forms I-9.
Changes to the Form
Many of the changes to the revised Form I-9 were designed to help with completing the form and assist in reducing technical errors. For instance, new error-checking features are available when the form is completed using Adobe Reader or other PDF viewing applications (be sure to update to the most recent version). Some other new features include:
- Additional space to enter multiple preparers and translators. If the employee does not use a preparer or translator to assist in completing Section 1, the employee must indicate so in a new check box.
- Controls within the form for users to electronically access the instructions, print the form, and clear the form.
- Drop-down calendars and lists.
- Embedded instructions for completing each field.
- Quick-response matrix barcode (QR code) that generates once the form is printed and may be used to streamline audit processes.
- Rather than all other names used, in Section 1, employees are only required to provide other last names used.
- Removing the requirement that aliens authorized to work provide both foreign passport information and Form I-94 in Section 1 after attestation of such status.
- Separating instructions from the form.
- Specific area to enter additional information that employers are currently required to notate in the form’s margins.
- Validations on certain fields to ensure information is entered correctly.
The new Form I-9 instructions also provide revised abbreviations for use on the form. Employers should use these abbreviations although longer, commonly used abbreviations may still be acceptable. For example, “Permanent Resident Card” is now “Perm. Resident Card (Form I-551).”
Due to the numerous changes, employers should familiarize themselves with the new form and train/retrain those individuals responsible for completing the form. We expect further guidance to be forthcoming from USCIS in the form of an update to publication M-274, Handbook for Employers – Guidance for Completing Form I-9.