The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that oversees lawful immigration to the U.S. issued an updated Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9 in January 2017.

The 69-page guide, which can be downloaded for future reference, covers the latest revisions to the Form I-9 and detailed instructions. As of January 22, 2017, you can only use the new Form I-9 with the revision date of 11/14/2016 in the lower left corner (and expiration date of 08/31/2019). All previous versions are invalid.

The expanded content also includes information on photocopying and retaining documents, avoiding discrimination, penalties for noncompliance and the E-Verify program. At the end of the handbook, you’ll find helpful FAQs and images of sample documents.

With the increased attention on immigration under the Trump administration, now is the time to get your I-9 records in order. This includes using the correct I-9 employment eligibility verification form, following the latest instructions and maintaining records as required by law.

You may request information about an applicant’s identity before making a job offer for purposes of pre-employment background screening. However, the information you gather during the application process can never be used to check someone’s eligibility to work in the United States. Verifying work eligibility must happen after the formal job offer.

Comply with the New Form I-9

In general, the new I-9 forms for 2017 were modified to be easier to complete. Specific changes you should be aware of:

  • You’re now required to enter N/A in certain areas, rather than leaving a box blank if it doesn’t apply to the employee.
  • In Section 1, the “other names used” field was replaced with “other last names used” to increase privacy for transgender individuals and others who have changed their first names.
  • An employee who checks Box 4 indicating he or she is an alien authorized to work must provide only one of the three document numbers listed (previously, had to enter both the Form I-94 admission number and foreign passport).
  • If a preparer or translator helps the employee with the form, he or she must complete a separate certification section (with added certifications for multiple preparers or translators).
  • In Section 2, the employer must record the “Citizenship/Immigration Status” entered by the employee in Section 1.
  • The reformatted form is a bit longer, with space for “Additional Information” that was previously noted in the margins of the form.

The essential requirements of the Form I-9 update remain the same. Section 1 must be completed by the employee by the end of their first day of work, and Section 2 must be completed no later than three days after the hire date. Plan to review any acceptable original documents the employee supplies, and retain all records as before.

REMINDER:

Never tell an employee which documents to provide. Rather, have the employee review the list of acceptable documents and choose which ones to share.

Stay on Top of the Latest I-9 Form Compliance

As an employer, complying with Form I-9 requirements is an essential business practice — and mandatory with all new hires. In addition to making sure employees properly complete Section 1, you must accurately fill out Section 2, review all documents presented by the employee and sign and date the form.

HRdirect’s I-9 and W-4 app walks you through an automated, online authorization process to ensure you meet all federal recordkeeping requirements and avoid costly mistakes. It makes it easier than ever to complete the forms online and remain fully compliant.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  • With the increased attention on immigration under the new administration, it’s essential to get your I-9 records in order.
  • Complying with Form I-9 requirements is an essential business practice — and mandatory with all new hires.
  • As of January 22, 2017, you can only use the new Form I-9 with the revision date of 11/14/2016 in the lower left corner (and expiration date of 08/31/2019). All previous versions are invalid.
  • The most recent version of the Form I-9 had many significant changes. A helpful handbook is available from uscis.gov.