On November 14, the new #I9 form was released by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. #HR may use the new form immediately, although the old form will remain valid through January 21, 2017. After that date, you must use the new form. All employees who are responsible for completing the I-9, should be trained on the new form and the changes.
Here are some important directions and guidance about the new I9 form:
- The new I-9 can be completed as a fillable PDF to reduce errors, however, it is not an electronic I-9. Employers must still print the completed I-9, obtain the appropriate signatures (which are not fillable via PDF) and retain the form for the proper retention period. So, for employers completing the form in an office environment, this version will be helpful to reduce errors and remain readable because information is typed onto the form. However, employers can still choose to complete any or all of the form using a pen to fill out sections after the document has been printed.
- Documents that are partly printed and partly handwritten are acceptable. Employers may still use an electronic version of the I-9, provided the format is updated to the current version and the I9s are retained consistent with the USCIS rules.
- Employers do not re-verify current employees due to the new form. Use the new I-9 only for newly hired employees and when you are required to re-verify temporary work authorization. All previously completed I9 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.
- 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).”
Notable changes to the form itself include the following:
- The form contains on screen instructions for each field to help with questions.
- 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. After clicking “click to finish”, errors will be noted and need to be corrected.
- Section 1, an employee only provides other last names used, as opposed to all other names used.
- Below an employee’s signature line, they must complete the checkbox about whether a Preparer and/or Translator was used to complete Section 1. If applicable, multiple names can be entered into that area.
- There is a dedicated area for including additional information (read the instructions for when this needs to be completed).
- If using fillable version, apartment number section must be completed using “n/a” if no apartment is applicable.
- 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.
- If using the fillable pdf form, the employee’s name will pre-populate onto the top of page 2 also.
The USCIS has released very helpful instructions for employers on the new I9 form, including detailed guidance on the correct abbreviations for Section 2 documents. A new Handbook for Employers (M-274) will likely be released in the future.
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