Are You Ready For This? A New I-9 Form Arrives January 22nd!

James Stovall

As an employer, you probably already know that you must complete a Form I-9 for every new employee hired after November 6, 1986.  You may also know that ever since the first version of the Form I-9 was published in 1987, many have struggled to complete the form correctly. Even though the form is relatively short, the I-9 process can be confusing, and unfortunately for employers, mistakes can lead to costly fines.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) periodically updates Form I-9 and its instructions.  On November 14, 2016, they published a revised version, which goes into effect on January 22, 2017. By this date, all employers must use the new Form I-9.  Here is some useful information about it — what’s staying the same and what’s about to change.

“Smart” Changes  

The new Form I-9 incorporates several important changes to both simplify and better guide individuals through form completion.  It’s now a “Smart Form” that you can download and complete on your computer.  You’ll still need to print it for the employee and yourself to sign, but at least any corrections can be made before printing.  The I-9 now includes assistance tools and data validation to prevent common errors, such as missing required fields and auto-population of common supporting document issuing authorities.  Note that the instructions have been expanded in a separate document and include information about the changes and how the “Smart” features should behave.

The Form I-9 remains the same number of pages but a new supplemental page will appear if two or more preparers and/or translators were involved in its completion.

Please note that even if you downloaded the new 1-9 from USCIS’ website in 2016, we recommend that you always return to their website when completing an 1-9.  As late as December of 2016 the USCIS was still working out some bugs in the form, so it’s best to ensure you have the most recent version.

Here are the biggest changes (broken down by section):

Section 1: Employee Information & Attestation

  • Guidance (click on the “?” in each field) is provided for optional fields (i.e., both the employee’s personal or work e-mail are acceptable).
  • Removal of “Do not enter PO Box” from the employee address field.
  • Citizenship status for ‘alien authorized to work’ now requires the employee to provide one of three document numbers – their Alien Registration Number/USCIS Number, Form I-94 Admission Number, or Foreign Passport with Country of Issuance.
  • “N/A” must be entered in any optional fields that could previously be left blank.

Preparer and/or Translator Certification

  • Employees must now indicate whether a preparer and/or translator (P/T) was used or not.
  • If two or more P/Ts were used, employees must complete the “Form I-9 Supplement, Section 1 Preparer and/or Translator Certification,” which includes additional certification-related fields for the P/Ts assisting with Section 1 completion.

Section 2: Employer or Authorized Representative Review and Verification

  • No changes have been made to the List of Acceptable Documents (last page of the I-9) that employers use to complete Section 2.
  • New citizenship/immigration status field – a numeric value from the dropdown must be entered that corresponds to the employee’s citizenship status from Section 1.  Note that if you complete the I-9 electronically, it will copy this and the other info for this line of fields, from the Section 1 entries.
  • Employers have the option to notate information such as employment authorization, E-verify case numbers or employee termination dates in the new “Additional Information” box.
  • Guidance for “Employer Address” to clarify that an actual physical address must be entered and PO Boxes are not accepted. If the employer has multiple locations, it must record the most appropriate option; often where the employee was hired.
  • Clarification that the person who physically examines the employee’s supporting documentation and completes Section 2 must sign his/ her name in that signature field.
  • “N/A” must be entered in any optional fields that could previously be left blank.

Section 3: Reverification and Rehires

  • If the previously executed Form I-9 is not the current version, you must complete Section 3 on the current version.  In this case, employers should leave the Citizenship/Immigration Status field blank (at the top of Section 2).
  • If completing Block A (new name), the employer is required to enter only the part of the name that has changed. For example, if the employee changed only their last name, enter it in the Last Name field and enter “N/A” in the other name fields.
  • If completing Block C, an employee must present unexpired documentation from either List A or List C showing they’re still authorized to work. The employee is not required to show the same type of document they presented previously.
  • “N/A” must be entered in any optional fields that could previously be left blank.

When it comes to your I-9 needs, Little Bird is here to help.  If you have questions or concerns, contact us today!