Since 1986, the federal government has required employers to certify the identity and legal employment status of their workers. This is done by use of the Employment Eligibility Verification Form — or as you may know it, the I-9 Form.
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, published a revised and updated I-9 form on November 14, 2016. It went into effect on January 22.
Updates for 2017
The new form boasts many improvements over older versions:
- New prompts throughout the form make filling it out accurately much easier.
- A dedicated space for notes and additional information lets you customize your form as needed and include crucial information not contained in the data fields.
- The form’s instructions, updated with detailed directions for each field, now have their own page, separated form the form itself.
- The instructions now explain under what circumstances you may use a previous I-9 Form for rehiring old employees more easily.
- You can now enter multiple preparers and translators if needed. These helpers have the luxury of their own brand new supplemental page to fill out.
- Section 1 is more specific than past editions: “other last names used” replaces the old field, “other names used.” In addition, foreign nationals will find it easier to verify identity with the new Section 1.
That’s not all. Getting in line with the times, USCIS has streamlined and improved the digital version of the form too:
- On-screen directions precede every field, while detailed instructions are easier to access.
- New drop-down lists and calendars speed entry for many data fields.
- You may now nullify the form and start over with ease.
- The sleekest new feature by far is the unique QR code that auto-generates with each completed form as you print it.
The one downside of the computer version of the form is that, except for employers with their own computerized I-9 Form modules in compliance with USCIS standards, you may not sign the form electronically. This means a hard copy will still ultimately be part of the process.
This newest version of the I-9 came out on November 14, 2016. You may begin to use it right away. The old version of the form, dated March 8, 2013, was good until January 22, 2017. Now, all employers must begin using the new one.
The new I-9 Form, whether on the computer screen or the printed page, is cleaner and clearer than ever before and streamlines the employee verification part of the hiring process for employers. But debates on the new form’s merits and demerits don’t strictly matter; starting on January 22, 2017, you have to use the new version. It is available on the USCIS website here.