The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced the approval and pending release of an updated version of the Form I-9 – Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9). USCIS currently plans to release the new version of the Form I-9 on Tuesday, November 22, 2016. Once released, the updated Form I-9 is scheduled to have an expiration date of August 31, 2019.
USCIS also announced that U.S. employers are allowed to continue using the current Form I-9 version (Rev. 03/08/2013) until Saturday, January 21, 2017. Starting January 22nd, it and all prior versions expire and will no longer be valid. This extension is great news for employers—in 2013, USCIS only provided employers with less than two months between introduction of the updated form and expiration of the old version.
Changes in the Updated Version
While it has yet to be released to the public, USCIS has given employers a preview of the changes they can expect when the updated version of the Form I-9 is released. The proposed changes to be included in the updated version strive to make the Form I-9 more “e-friendly” and less confusing for employers, with the inclusion of “smart, error-checking features.” When released, the updated Form I-9 will be a “smart PDF” form—meaning employers will be able to access and complete the form on their computers via Adobe Acrobat. With this new fillable PDF, employers will have access to features such as:
- Validation assistance in certain fields, to ensure information is entered correctly. (For example, the revised form will validate the correct number of digits for a Social Security number or an expiration date on an identity document.)
- 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.
While employers can complete the updated version of the Form I-9 on their computers, it will not be a fully electronic document. After populating the fields, employers will still need to print the PDF form, obtain handwritten signatures, store the hard copies in a safe place, monitor reverifications and updates with a calendaring system, and retype information into E-Verify as required.
The updated version will also feature several structural changes and instructions which will be important for all employers to know and learn, including:
- Additional spaces to enter multiple preparers and translators.
- The requirement that workers provide only other last names used in Section 1, rather than all other names used.
- 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 (i.e., Temporary Protected Status; Optional Practical Training extensions; etc.)
- A quick-response matrix barcode, or QR code, that generates once the form is printed that can be used to streamline enforcement audits.
- Instruction sheet completely separate from the Form I-9 itself (though employers will still be required to present the instructions to the employee completing the form).
A major goal of the updated version of the Form I-9 is to clarify frequent points of confusion that arise for both employees and employers-specifically focusing on helping employers reduce technical errors for which they may be fined.
If you have any questions concerning your organizations’ Form I-9 compliance, or E-Verify compliance, feel free to contact us for further guidance.