The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has again released a new and updated version of Form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verification document. Since November 1986, all U.S. employers have been required to complete and retain the Form I-9 for new employees. Effective January 31, 2020, employers should use the new Form I-9, available online in PDF format. The latest version of the Form I-9 is mandatory as of May 1, 2020, and it replaces the prior version in use since September 2018. You can identify the new version of the form by the date (10/21/2019) noted at the bottom-left corner; the prior version was dated 07/17/2017-N. Although employers may use the prior version up to April 30, USCIS recommends using the updated form for any new employees hired on or after January 31, 2020.
A couple of points to bear in mind:
- There is no need to complete the new form for any current employees, and employers should continue to follow existing storage and retention rules for all of their previously completed Forms I-9.
- Using an outdated version of the form, a common Form I-9 preparation error, is considered a substantive violation and could subject an employer to civil fines should Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conduct an I-9 inspection. The new form is designated by the date it was first published, 10/21/2019, as indicated at the bottom-left corner. This is often confused with the expiration date (10/31/2022) in the more prominent top-right corner, a date by which USCIS expects to review the data collection needs and possibly revise or reissue the form.
The latest Form I-9 remains a three-page form, and there are only a few minor changes to consider:
- The online version of the form, but not the paper version, has revised the “Country of Issuance” field in Section 1 to add new country names, specifically Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and Macedonia, North.
- The “Issuing Authority” field in Section 2 has been updated to provide further options when an employer selects a foreign passport as an identity document. This change is also only visible when completing the fillable Form I-9 online.
The Form I-9 instructions have been updated to further explain who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer, to provide a new USCIS website address, to offer clarification on the list of acceptable documents for completing the Form I-9, and to offer guidance on how to request paper copies of the form.
Finally, the Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9 (Form M-274) was last updated in January 2018 but remains an invaluable employer resource. It provides useful information on completing the Form I-9, retention requirements, unlawful discrimination and prohibited practices, and use of the E-Verify system. To obtain either the Handbook or I-9 forms (including Spanish language versions), or to brush up on your Form I-9 knowledge via an I-9 Webinar on Demand, visit I-9 Central.