U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently updated the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to the edition dated November 14, 2016. Employers will be required to use the revised version of the form beginning January 22, 2017. A copy of the revised from can be found here along with instructions. All prior versions of the form will be invalid as of January 22, 2017.
Electronic Completion Changes
There are several important changes to the new Form I-9, and USCIS has indicated that the changes are meant to minimize errors during completion. One key change is that the electronic version of the new form functions as a “smart” document programmed to help the user complete the form accurately. The new smart features include:
- Field-specific instructions can be accessed by moving your cursor over the question mark symbol associated with the field.
- Some fields will auto-populate based on information entered elsewhere on the form.
- Drop-down fields from which List A, B, and C documents can be selected according to the employee’s citizenship or immigration status.
- An “error” feature will let the user know if certain fields have been improperly filled or left blank.
- A new text field allows employers to enter “Additional Information” to note special situations (i.e. employment authorization extensions for certain foreign national students in F-1 visa status, CAP-GAP, H-1B and H-2A employees continued employment with the same employer or changing employers, discrepancies that E-Verify employers must note when participating in the IMAGE program, employee termination dates and form retention dates, and other necessary notes).
Although the new form has been created with electronic completion in mind, it may be filled out on a computer or by hand. In addition to the new fillable “smart” version of the form, the USCIS website also provides an unfillable version of the form which must be printed for completion on paper. Employers continue to have the option of completing and storing Forms I-9 in accordance with electronic storage requirements.
USCIS has also made more substantive changes to the form. Below is a summary of those modifications:
- If applicable, employees need only provide “Other Last Names Used” instead of full names used.
- A foreign national that is authorized to work can provide either his/her I-94 Admission Number or a Foreign Passport Number (both are not required).
- The employee must certify whether he/she used a preparer or translator to complete the form by checking a box.
- A “Citizenship/Immigration Status” field has been added and a corresponding numerical identifier of that status must be selected.
- As previously noted, the new “Additional Information” field allows employers to enter notes on special situations as opposed to writing those notes in the margins of the form.
- Guidance is provided on document abbreviations that may be used in Section 2.