The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a new version of Form I-9, which is required to be used starting on January 22, 2017, and thereafter. Earlier versions of the Form will not be acceptable after that date. The new Form must be used in connection with newly-hired employees only, not already existing employees of the employer.

Form I-9 is a document that is used by employers to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals (both citizens and noncitizens) hired for employment in the United States. Employees and employers must complete the Form. Employees must present acceptable documents to their employer that show their identity and employment authorization. The employer is required to examine the documents to determine if they appear to be genuine and relate to the employee presenting the documents, and then record the document information on the Form.   A list of acceptable documents is found on page 3 of the Form.

The revised Form I-9, which has an issue date of 11/14/2016 in the lower left-hand corner of the document, has some substantial changes compared to the previous version (from March 8, 2013). Most importantly, the new Form I-9 is a “smart” form, which is a PDF, capable of being filled out on a computer. Enhancements have been made including drop-down lists, calendars for dates, and on-screen instructions for each field.

The instructions are now separate from the form itself, which is in accordance with other USCIS forms. Specific instructions are provided for completing each field.

To access Form I-9 and for further information, go to www.uscis.gov/i-9. The Handbook for Employers, Guidance for Completing Form I-9 will be updated by USCIS very soon.

In addition, USCIS has scheduled a stakeholder conference for January 31, 2017, where enhancements and best practices related to Form I-9 will be discussed. See www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/whats-new for more information.

Bottom Line for Employers

Employers should take immediate steps to become familiar with the changes in the new Form I-9 and train any human resources personnel or managers vested with completing I-9s on behalf of the company. It is very important is to ensure that the Forms are being completed correctly and accurately to avoid employer penalties and fines.

More questions? Contact Employment Law Practice Group Leader, Jennifer Suich Frank at 605.342.2592.