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Are You Using the New, 2017 I-9 Form?

For most employers, keeping up with ever-changing employment and labor law regulations and documents can be difficult. One of the most talked about and strict employment documents is undergoing a change in 2017 – and if you’re not using it right now you could wind up in trouble!

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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released an updated version of the Form I-9, which became mandatory for all employers a few short days ago on January 22, 2017.  You can access all updated versions of the Form I-9 here.  

What does this mean for employers?
From this point forward, all previous version of the form will be invalid.  Under federal immigration law, employers must maintain a properly completed Form I-9 for all employers hires in the U.S. after November 6, 1986. Employers who fail to use Form I-9 (rev 11/14/2016) on or after January 22, 2017 may be subject to all applicable penalties under section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as enforced by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

What do the changes consist of?
As you know, Form I-9 is to be completed by both the employer, and the employee. Employers can complete the new Form I-9 electronically, on a fillable PDF, or by hand by downloading the PDF. Below highlights some of the big changes that took place, according to global law firm Holland and Knight.

Changes to Section 1, to be completed by the employee, include:
-- Request for "other last names used" by the employee, rather than "other names used"
-- Streamlining of certification for certain foreign nationals, by requiring the Alien Registration number, I-94 number or foreign passport number, not both the Alien Registration number or I-94 number and the foreign passport number;
-- Auto-fill of certain areas of Section 1 when the employee selects citizenship status
-- Ability to enter multiple preparers of translators of the form who assisted the employee in completing the form, and a supplemental page for the preparer or translator

Changes to Section 2, to be completed by the employer, include:
-- Error messages on the smart form for documents entered incorrectly by the employer (i.e., an error message appears if an employer selects "U.S. Passport" as a verification document for an employee that has selected a non-corresponding citizenship status)
-- Auto-fill of certain areas once a verifying document is selected
-- An "Additional Information" box for use by the employer to notate a variety of additional information, such as employment authorization extensions, additional document description or other relevant information.

What is the purpose of the new form?
The newly designed I-9 form was created to simplify the employment eligibility process and help employers cut back on technical errors. The document is now 4 pages, with another 15 pages of instructions (you’d better dig your readers out!).  This new smart form includes a number of new features, including drop-down menus and hover text, which are all designed to guide the user through the process and reduce errors. To make the form even more user-friendly, each data point now has a question mark that provides an explanation of the field when clicked.

Are you still processing employee forms by hand?
If you haven’t looked into an automated system to gather employee data, feel free to give us a call! Our Employee Onboard software (EOB) enables new hires to fill out the new form I-9, additional federal and state tax documents, direct deposit forms and other HR documents, electronically before their first day of work – minimizing any effort on you (the employer).   Contact us to learn all the advantages EOB has to offer!

Sources:  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services