New Form I-9 Goes Into Effect on January 21, 2017, Are You Ready?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently released a new version of the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. Employers are required to start using the new form by January 21, 2017. The penalties for non-compliance have dramatically increased as well, making it critical that employers become familiar with the new form and make sure that they are I-9 compliant.

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What Is Form I-9?

Form I-9 is used for verifying the employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the US. Federal immigration law requires that US employers ensure proper completion of the Form I-9 for each employee they hire. The employer and the employee are required to fill out a joint form. The employee is also required to submit acceptable documentation evidencing identity and employment authorization. Employers are then required to examine the documents, record the information on the Form I-9, and retain a copy of the Form I-9.

The New Form’s “Smart” Features

The most significant change with the new form is that it is available as a PDF document, which can be filled out online utilizing software found on most computers. The online version includes innovative “Smart” features that will assist employers and employees in properly completing the new form. Some of the new changes include:

  1. The three page I-9 form is now separate from the long instructions;

  2. Page 2 has a designated space for employers to note additional information regarding any unusual situations, rather than having to write in the margins or attaching a memo;

  3. The form checks whether required fields are entered correctly. For example, the form will notify the user of any missing fields, dates that are not inputted in mm/dd/yyyy format, and social security numbers that are missing a digit;

  4. Drop-down lists and calendars;

  5. The form will automatically populate “N/A” in certain subsequent fields depending on the answers provided;

  6. Embedded instructions that pop-up when the cursor hovers over a particular field;

  7. Buttons that allow users to access instructions, start the form over, and print; and

  8. A QR barcode is propagated once the form is completed and printed to facilitate review by auditors.

However, whether filling out the electronic or paper version of the new form, employers still are required to sign a printed copy of the new form and retain a hard copy.

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