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Are you ready for the new version of the Form I-9?

As we've discussed in previous posts, the Immigration Reform and Control Act, passed back in 1986, requires all employers looking to expand their workforce to verify the identity and employment authorization of any prospective hire, meaning confirming that they are a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, noncitizen national or alien authorized to work.

The mechanism through which this is accomplished is the Form I-9, a new version of which is actually scheduled to be released on January 22, 2017, and which employers will be required to use thereafter.

What's different about the new version of the Form I-9?

Some of the more noteworthy changes on the new version of the Form I-9 include simplified certification for designated foreign nationals, the ability to enter multiple translators and preparers, a dedicated space for additional information, a supplemental page for translators and preparers, and a separate instruction form with directions for each field.

In addition, the newest iteration of the Form I-9 is far easier to complete via computer.

What's significant about the changes to the electronic version?

The new electronic version of the Form I-9, available in a PDF format, contains the following features:

  • Drop-down lists and calendars for filling in dates
  • Easy to access instructions, including on-screen instructions for each field
  • An option to clear all contents and start over
  • Validation of data entered to ensure accuracy (i.e., looking for the correct number of digits or data type)

Is this electronic version properly considered an electronic form?     

The current new version of the Form I-9 does not meet the definition of "electronic form" as set forth by the Department of Homeland Security. As such, a Form I-9 completed on a computer would need to be printed, signed and stored.

What should employers do in the weeks leading up to January 22?

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, all employers must use the new version by the deadline. However, up until that time, they may continue to use the version dated 3/8/13 or the new version.

What about re-verification and revision going forward?

In the event an employee's documentation requires either re-verification or revision on or after January 22, the employer should make any updates on the new Form I-9 and attach it to the original Form I-9.

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you are an employer who would like to learn more about the new Form I-9, or your general responsibilities as they relate to I-9 compliance and enforcement.

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