Federal law requires every U.S. employer to complete a Form I-9 for each new hire, verifying each employee’s identity and authorization to work in the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently revised the Form I-9: Employment Eligibility Verification to reduce errors and enhance completion for businesses using a computer.
From now through January 21, 2017, employers may use either the new form — dated 11/14/2016 N with an expiration date of 8/31/2019 — or the earlier form — dated 03/08/2013 N. As of Jan. 22, 2017, employers must use the new form. Employers are encouraged to review the new form and instructions as soon as possible to become familiar with the changes.
What’s different on the revised Form I-9?
The revised Form I-9, available on the USCIS website in a PDF format (or smart form), paper version, and fillable Spanish language version (for use only by employers and employees in Puerto Rico):
- Asks for “other last names used” rather than “other names used” in Section 1, and streamlines certification for certain foreign nationals;
- Features prompts to better ensure information is entered correctly;
- Allows you to enter multiple preparers and translators via an additional supplemental page;
- Has a dedicated area for additional information, to eliminate the need to use the margins;
- Separates the instructions from the Form I-9 in line with other USCIS forms, and provides specific directions for filling out each field on the form. The instructions are now 15 pages long.
The PDF or Smart Form version of the Form I-9 is easier to complete on a computer, featuring drop-down lists and calendars for filling in dates, on-screen instructions for each field, and an option to clear the form and start over. Printing the completed form generates a quick response (QR) code, readable by most QR readers. The completed form must be printed for a “wet signature.” Employers may also choose to use the “Paper Version” and have employees fill it out by hand, making sure to obtain appropriate signatures. Employers who utilize an electronic Form I-9 application, which is subject to additional requirements, may continue to do so where the new version of the Form I-9 has been incorporated.
Employees must be provided with a copy of the full instructions with the Form I-9 no later than the first day of work for pay and not before accepting an offer of employment. Employers must ensure that all Form I-9s are properly completed and retained in compliance with applicable USCIS requirements. The USCIS has indicated it will release an updated version of the M-274, Handbook for Employers, Guidance for Completing Form I-9 no later than January 22. Failure to comply with Form I-9 requirements can lead to both civil and criminal penalties.
Find all three versions of the new Form I-9, instructions, and a supplement for translators/preparers on the USCIS website at https://www.uscis.gov/i-9.