• USCIS Issues Revised “Smart” Form I-9
  • January 24, 2017 | Authors: Greg L. Berk; Kevin W. Houng
  • Law Firms: Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP - Costa Mesa Office; Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • On November 14, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) issued a revised Form I-9 which is required by employers to verify employment authorization. The old I-9 form with a revision date of March 8, 2013, may only be used until January 21, 2017. Employers should transition to using the new form as soon as possible. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) requires use of the new form no later than January 22, 2017.

    Employers must maintain an I-9 form on file for every employee on their payroll. The purpose of the I-9 form is to have the employer establish the employee’s identity and authorization to work in the U.S.

    New Form I-9 Changes

    The digital version of the revised I-9 form is a welcome change for employers as it is more user friendly and will automatically flag any missing fields. The new “smart” I-9 may be downloaded at https://www.uscis.gov/i-9.

    Some of the new changes include:
    1. The three page I-9 form is now separate from the long instructions;
    2. Page 2 has a designated space for employers to note additional information regarding any unusual situations, rather than having to write in the margins or attaching a memo;
    3. The form checks whether required fields are entered correctly. For example, the form will notify the user of any missing fields, dates that are not inputted in mm/dd/yyyy format, and social security numbers that are missing a digit;
    4. Drop-down lists and calendars;
    5. The form will automatically populate “N/A” in certain subsequent fields depending on the answers provided;
    6. Embedded instructions that pop-up when the cursor hovers over a particular field;
    7. Buttons that allow users to access instructions, start the form over, and print; and
    8. A QR barcode is propagated once the form is completed and printed to facilitate review by auditors.
    It should be noted that the new form is not “electronic I-9 software.” Employers that do not use digital I-9 software must still print the form and obtain handwritten signatures. Software vendors providing digital I-9 services will be required to update their Form I-9 and incorporate the new features. However, the responsibility falls on the employer to ensure that the new digital form is compliant.

    General I-9 Tips

    On August 1, 2016, USCIS announced a significant increase in fines for I-9 violations.

    Here are a few tips to prevent common I-9 errors: