Question:  I heard there is a new I-9 form. What are the new requirements, and what do I need to do to make sure my company is complying?

Answer:  All employers are required to complete a Form I-9 for every newly hired employee.  Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States.  On the first day of employment, the employer must provide the Form I-9 to the employee and the employee must complete Section 1 of the I-9 that same day.  Section 1 includes the employee’s name, address, date of birth, and an attestation of the employee’s employment authorization status that the employee must complete and sign under penalty of perjury.

The employee must also present to the employer one or more original unexpired documents establishing the employee’s identity and employment authorization within three business days of the employee’s first day of employment.  The I-9 lists acceptable documents to meet this requirement.  Once the employee has presented the original documents, the employer must physically examine each one to determine if it reasonably appears to be genuine and to relate to the employee.  The person examining the documents must complete and sign section 2 of the I-9 certifying that he or she has examined the documents, that they appear to be genuine and to relate to the employee, and that to the best of that person’s knowledge the employee is authorized to work in the United States.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued a new version of the I-9 dated October 21, 2019.  Employers should use this form with new hires but should not reverify current employee identity and employment authorization just because a new version of the I-9 is issued. In fact, employers are not permitted to reverify employment authorization for current employees unless the employee’s employment authorization document expires.

The new I-9 contains minor changes that are only visible when completing the form I-9 on a computer.  The paper version of the I-9 is unchanged from the prior version. There are, however, important changes to the I-9’s instructions.  Such changes include:

  • Clarification on who can act as an authorized representative to complete the I-9 on behalf of the employer: Employers may designate anyone to be an authorized representative to complete Section 2, but the employer is still liable for any violations committed by the designated authorized representative.
  • Clarifications pertaining to acceptable documents: When entering document information in the List A, B, and C columns, employers do not need to enter “N/A” in the columns that are not being used. For example, if you enter document information in the List A column, you should not enter document information or N/A in the List B or List C columns.

Employers may continue to use the previous edition of the I-9 (Rev. 07/17/2017 N) for new hires through April 30, 2020. Use of the new I-9 form will become mandatory beginning May 1, 2020.   The new form bears the form date in the lower left corner (10/21/2019) and the expiration date in the upper right corner (10/31/2022.)  Employers must strictly comply with the I-9 requirements. Failure to properly complete, retain and store employee I-9’s may trigger I-9 inspections or audits that may result in civil penalties or even criminal prosecution.   For more information visit https://www.uscis.gov/i-9