Employers Must Use New Version of Form I-9

inshistory9Effective January 22, 2017 employers should have started using the new version of Form I-9 (marked 11/14/2016) and should discontinue use of any forms with expiration dates prior to 2017.  The newest version of the form can be found on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

Employers who fail to use the new version of the form for new hires after January 22, 2017 will be subject to penalties which were recently increased drastically (effective August 1, 2016 the minimum penalty increased from $110 to $216 per violation and the maximum penalty increased from $1,100 to $2,156 per violation).

To avoid these penalties, employers should be using the new version of the form and should also ensure that the forms are filled out completely and correctly.

Employers need not complete a new version Form I-9 for current employees, but should begin using the new version immediately for all employees hired after January 22, 2017.

Overall, the format of the new Form I-9 is very similar to the previous version with some changes to fields and instructions.  There has been no change to the list of acceptable documents or the requirements for record retention for the Form I-9.

The new version of the form is called a “smart I-9” because it is now a fillable, interactive PDF file, however it still acts as a paper form because employees are required to print and sign the form on paper.  Employees have the option of completing the fields in the PDF electronically and then printing the form to sign, printing the form prior to completing any fields on the form and completing on paper and signing, or partially completing the form in the PDF and then printing and completing the form.

The advantage to an employee completing the fields on the form in the smart PDF version are that the document will flag errors and fields with missing data and includes specific instructions for the fields to be completed as well as a link to the full instructions for the form.

The instructions have increased from six pages to fifteen pages to provide additional guidance for employees and employers about proper completion of Form I-9.

Section One of the I-9 form must be completed by the employee.  Employees are now required to mark a box affirming whether he or she used a translator or preparer to complete Section 1 of Form I-9 – this box was not on the previous version of the form.  There are also additional fields available on the new version for up to 5 preparers or translators to sign and date rather than having just the one field available on the previous version.

Section Two of the I-9 form must be completed by an employer representative who is physically viewing the original documents (not copies or reprints) verifying employment eligibility.  The only change in this section is a new field asking for the new hire’s citizenship or immigration status.  The employer must fill in the corresponding number (1, 2, 3, 4) for the employee’s citizenship or immigration status as indicated by the employee in Section 1.

There is also a new box available for additional information in Section 2 to provide information that was previously written in the margins of the form such as E-Verify case number, termination date, retention dates, etc.  It is suggested that employer’s only include necessary information in this box as any information entered in this box can be used in the event of an I-9 audit.

Note: If you are currently using an electronic version of Form I-9 with an electronic signature you can continue doing so as long as the version of the Form I-9 h