Employers may obtain and start using the new I-9 “Employment Eligibility Verification” federal government form for their employees now, but must start doing so no later than Sunday, January 22, 2017. On that date, all previous versions of Form I-9 will be deemed invalid.
After January 21, 2017, employers must use only the revised Form I-9 for new hires, and also to reverify the employment authorization of current employees. If a current employee requires reverification after January 21, 2017, employers must complete Section 3 of the new form and attach it to the employee’s existing Form I-9.
Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States, including both citizens and noncitizens.
The newest version of the Form I-9, together with instructions for its completion, is now available online, free of charge, at https://www.uscis.gov/i-9.
There also is no fee charged for submitting the completed form.
The current version of the I-9 form expired on March 31, 2016, but the Office of Management and Budget approved the revised form only recently. The new form is dated “11/14/2016 N” on the lower left corner and lists an expiration date of 08/31/2019.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says that the new form has been promulgated to help employers reduce technical errors for which they may be fined, and also to make it easier to complete the form using a computer.
The new form contains some new questions, including asking employees to disclose “other last names used” to protect the privacy of employees who may have previously used a different first name. Citizens of foreign countries are now allowed to provide either their Department of Homeland Security Form I-94 number (Arrival and Departure Record) or foreign passport information, but not both, as previously required. Enhancements to the I-9 Form online include drop-down lists and calendars for filling in dates, on-screen instructions for each field, easy access to the full instructions, and an option to clear the form and start over.
Employers completing the new form will still need to obtain handwritten signatures from their employees.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and auditors inspect Forms I-9 for compliance, and impose monetary fines for a range of violations that include from minor technical violations to egregious substantive violations, such as employing unauthorized workers. Form I-9 errors are now subject to fines ranging of $216 to $2,156 per violation.
With the incoming Trump Administration, it is probable that Form I-9 compliance and enforcement will once again become a priority for both USCIS and ICE, something that had declined in importance under the Obama Administration. By coincidence, Donald Trump will be sworn in as President two days before the new I-9 Form becomes mandatory.