The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) issued an updated Form I-9 in November 2016. As of January 22, 2017, all employers are required to use the updated Form I-9 for new employees or any employee who requires recertification. The new Form I-9 is available at the USCIS website ( https://www.uscis.gov/i-9). Employers will note that Form I-9 instructions have increased from 9 pages to 15 pages, and are now separated from the form itself.
Completing Form I-9 has been a frequent cause of confusion for employers and employees alike. The updated form includes several new features which were designed to reduce errors and enhance form completion. As such, employers should be aware of the basic changes to the form in order to ensure compliance.
The updated Form I-9 allows employers to use a new “smart” form, which is provided in PDF format. Although employers may elect to continue using a paper form, the smart form includes several new and useful features, including automatic error-checking and auto-filling certain irrelevant fields with “N/A” based on other inputs. Employers and employees are now generally required to fill in “N/A” for each question which is either optional (e.g., an employee’s email address) or irrelevant. The smart form also provides instructions for each field. These instructions are presented as a question mark, which, when clicked, drops down to reveal specific directions for completing the field in question.
Section 1 of the form, which is completed by the employee, includes a few immediately Reviewing the Revisions to New Form I-9 Employment Law Quarterly 6 Spring 2017 apparent changes that employers should note. The “Other Names Used” box has changed to specify that employees should list only “Other Last Names Used.” The smart form also auto-fills certain fields when the employee selects his or her citizenship status. For example, a foreign national authorized to work only needs to provide either a USCIS number or Form I-94 number, but not both. In the event that one number is entered, the other irrelevant fields will automatically be filled with “N/A.” Section 1 also includes an option for the employee to select whether one or more preparers or translators assisted the employee in completing the form. If two or more preparers or translators assisted, the electronic form will change to include additional fields for each preparer or translator to sign.
Section 2 of the new I-9, which is completed by the employer, also includes error-checking features, such as an error message that appears if the employer attempts to select verification documents that do not match the employee’s selected citizenship or immigration status listed in Section 1. As above, Section 2 also autofills irrelevant fields once certain documents are selected. Finally, Section 2 includes a new “Additional information” box, which the employer may use to include additional relevant information if needed.
Submitting each Form I-9 accurately and completely has taken on additional significance in light of the recent increases in civil penalties for Form I-9 paperwork violations, which were adjusted effective August 1, 2016. The penalties for Form I-9 paperwork errors or omissions have nearly doubled. The new regulations raise the minimum fine from $110 to $216, and the maximum fine from $1,100 to $2,156. Going forward, the civil monetary penalties will continued to be adjusted for inflation on an annual basis.
The updated form does not change the substantive requirements of employers to complete the form on a timely basis and properly retain a signed copy of the form in their records. As always, employees must complete Section 1 of Form I-9 no later than the first day of employment for pay, and employers must complete Section 2 within three business days thereafter.
Those seeking additional information on the revised Form I-9 should consult the M-274 “Handbook for Employers,” which was recently revised by the USCIS on January 22, 2017. This handbook, along with additional information and resources for employers, is available online at the USCIS “I-9 Central” page (https://www.uscis.gov/ i-9-central).
For more information about this article, please contact Matthew G. Kuspa at 410.230.3051 or email@example.com.