US: USCIS releases new edition of Form I-9

USCIS has published a revised edition of the I-9 employment eligibility verification form. The new version – dated 11/14/2016 – will become mandatory for employers on January 22, 2017.  Until that time, employers may continue to use the version dated 03/08/2013.

The new edition does not change the key substantive questions on Form I-9 or the list of acceptable identity and work authorisation documents, but it contains some format changes that are intended to reduce completion errors.

Features of the New Form I-9

The new Form I-9 is a “smart” document with enhancements that are available when the form is filled out on a computer, including:

  • Auto-population of certain fields based on information entered elsewhere on the form;

  • Drop-down lists from which List A, B and C identity and work authorisation documents can be selected based on the employee's citizenship or immigration status;

  • A new “Additional Information” text field in which employers can enter annotations on special situations, such as employment authorisation extensions for STEM OPT applicants, cap-gap beneficiaries and TPS beneficiaries;

  • Hover-over instructions for each field; and

  • A validation feature to alert the user if fields have been improperly filled or left blank.

Section 1 clarifies that an employee need only provide other last names used (if any) rather than full names used and that a foreign national authorised to work may provide either the I-94 admission number or a foreign passport number (rather than both). 

Preparers and translators, if any, will now be required to certify their assistance with completion of the form. The two-page form can be expanded to an additional page if more than one preparer or translator assists. 

Completing and Signing the New Form I-9

The new Form I-9 may be filled out on a computer or by hand.  Although the new edition is optimised for electronic completion, it does not have an electronic signature function. If completed on the “smart” PDF available through the USCIS website, Form I-9 must be printed out and signed by hand by the employee, employer, and, if applicable, any preparer or translator. 

Electronic signatures remain acceptable on I-9 forms that are completed through third-party software and other tools with an electronic signature function, provided that they meet government guidelines.

What This Means for Employers

Employers should ensure that the new form is integrated into their employment verification systems and processes by January 22, 2017.  If you have any questions about the new Form I-9, please contact your designated immigration professional. 

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK