U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the next version of the Form I-9 will be made available by Nov. 22, 2016. Employers can continue using the current version of the form with a revision date of 03/08/2013 until Jan. 21, 2017. After Jan. 21, all previous versions of the form will be invalid.
The new version of the form includes some “smart” error-checking features and new structural changes and will have an expiration date of Aug. 31, 2019. It resembles a fillable PDF form with drop-down options designed for easier form completion. While the new form can be filled out electronically, it is not an electronic I-9. Employers filling out the new form using Adobe Reader will still need to print the form, obtain handwritten signatures, store it, schedule reverifications and updates, and retype information into E-Verify by hand.
The proposed changes were designed to assist employers in reducing technical errors for which they may be fined, and include:
- Validations on certain fields to ensure information is entered correctly. The form will validate the correct number of digits for a Social Security number or an expiration date on an identity document, for example.
- Drop-down lists and calendars.
- Embedded instructions for completing each field.
- Buttons that will allow users to access the instructions electronically, print the form and clear the form to start over.
- Additional spaces to enter multiple preparers and translators. If the employee does not use a preparer or translator to assist in completing section 1, he or she must indicate so on a new check box labeled, “I did not use a preparer or translator.”
- The requirement that workers provide only other last names used in Section 1, rather than all other names used. This is to avoid possible discrimination issues.
- The removal of the requirement that immigrants authorized to work provide both their Form I-94 number and foreign passport information in Section 1.
- A new “Citizenship/Immigration Status” field at the top of section 2.
- A dedicated area to enter additional information that employers are currently required to notate in the margins of the form, such as Temporary Protected Status and Optional Practical Training extensions.
- A quick-response matrix barcode, or QR code, that generates once the form is printed that can be used to streamline enforcement audits.
- Separate instructions from the form. Employers are still required to present the instructions to the employee completing the form, however.
In light of the recent increase in I-9 related fines and penalties, employers should take this opportunity to:
- Conduct an audit of at least a representative sampling of I-9s completed in the last three years. *Schedule employment authorization training for all employees responsible for completing the form.
- Contact any I-9 employment authorization vendors to ensure their compliance with the form change deadline.