Beginning January 22, employers must only use the new I-9 Form dated November 14, 2016, which replaces the form dated March 8, 2013. The new I-9 Form is located on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service website and has a new expiration date of August 31, 2019. Failure to use the new form may result in the assessment of penalties. The I-9 form has been required for all new hires after November 6, 1986.
The new form, which has “smart” error-checking features, is simpler to use. Its enhancements streamline certification for certain foreign nationals. The most prominent changes are:
- The form can now be completed more easily on the computer with drop-down lists and calendars for filling in dates.
- Each field has onscreen instructions.
- The full instructions, which are no longer a page of the form but separate from it, are easily accessible. However, employers must still present the instructions to the employees completing the form.
- There is a form option to clear and start over.
- Prompts have been added to ensure information is entered correctly.
- The preparer can enter multiple preparers and translators.
- A dedicated area exists for additional information (no more margin annotations needed).
- There is a supplemental page for the preparer/translator.
- The requirement that immigrants authorized to work provide both their Form I-94 number and foreign passport information in Section 1 is removed.
- A mechanism was added that prompts individuals about missing information and/or incomplete fields, highlighted in red, before moving from one section to another within the form.
- A “Print” option enables individuals to print the Form I-9 once data is entered.
- A quick-response matrix barcode, or QR code, that generates once the form is printed can be used to streamline enforcement audits.
This revised form with the above enhancements was designed to help human resource professionals and employers reduce the technical errors that have plagued this process for the past 30 years. It is important for employers to note that the new smart I-9 is not an electronic I-9 and that the form completed using Adobe Reader must still be printed, signed, and dated by the employee, and stored in a safe place. In addition, reverifications and updates must still be calendared. Where an employer uses E-Verify, the employer must retype I-9 information into E-Verify as was done with the old I-9 form.
Further, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) amended the I-9 completion instructions, which now provide more detail and guidance in an effort to reduce errors during the I-9 completion process. Reducing errors is more important than ever as the USCIS has implemented higher civil fines against employers who commit immigration-related offenses, including I-9 paperwork violations like I-9 Form errors or omissions. The civil penalties rose from $110 to $1,110 per relevant I-9, to $216 to $2,156, representing an increase of nearly 100 percent.
Given that the Trump administration has emphasized immigration enforcement, employers would be prudent to review their I-9 compliance policy and perhaps conduct an internal audit of their I-9 records to ensure compliance with immigration rules, and that they are prepared for an audit in this new era of immigration enforcement.
If you have questions about the new I-9 Form or any general I-9 compliance issue, please contact Maria Mejia-Opaciuch, Carlton Fields senior counsel: firstname.lastname@example.org or (305) 539-7319.