Stay Informed: New I-9 Form Requirements for Civic Employers

Written by Jonathan Wiersma

Effective Sunday, January 22, employers are required to utilize a new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-9. To ensure you are prepared to successfully meet the latest compliance requirements, read on for everything you need to know about the new form changes.

Which Employees are Affected?

Employers are not required to have existing employees complete a new I-9 using the new form. Only new hires, on or after January 22, must complete the new form.

New Form Changes

The purpose of the Form I-9, and its core requirements, have not changed. However, there are some changes to individual fields, as well as more detailed instructions (now 15 pages instead of the previous six), that human resource (HR) managers should be familiar with before beginning to utilize the form. Note that the acceptable documents list and retention requirements have also remained the same.

It is important to be aware that failure to comply with the new changes and requirements outlined below could result in reported non-compliance, if audited.

New Submission Options

HR managers may now give employees three options for completing their Form I-9:

  1. Complete in hardcopy via pen and paper.
  1. Fill it out electronically, then print and sign a hard copy. Note: If an employee uses the online "smart" version of the form, it does not qualify as a compliant electronic I-9. The online “smart” form, which offers a fillable, interactive PDF option, must be printed and signed by hand. To utilize the smart form, employees will need internet access, as well as access to Adobe Reader to open and complete the form.

If choosing the smart form, it is important to understand that even though the form is built to limit options based on previous answers and guide the new employee through completion, the smart form does not serve as a safe harbor against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is not integrated with E-Verify, nor other HR systems, cannot store information, and does not enable reporting.

  1. Utilize an electronic I-9 vendor. The most seamless option, if you are using an electronic I-9 system, such as CivicHR, you should not experience any direct impact with the form change, as your solution provider should be making available to you the new required form.

Section 1 Changes—Completed by the Employee

A summary of the changes to Section 1 of the new Form I-9 are as follows:

  • Employees must enter N/A in any fields that do not pertain to them (e.g., middle initial), rather than leaving fields blank.
  • If the new employee attests to being a foreign national authorized to work in the United States, he/she can provide either an alien registration number, Form I-94 admission number, or foreign passport number, rather than providing both an I-94 number and foreign passport information as previously required.
  • Up to five preparers and/or translators may each sign and date the form in his/her own field. Preparers/translators are no longer required to share a single signature field.
  • If the employee does not use a preparer/translator, he/she must affirmatively check an attestation box.

Section 2 Changes—Completed by the Employer

A summary of the changes to Section 2 of the new Form I-9 are as follows:

  • The employer representative responsible for verifying employment eligibility must be in the physical presence of the person being verified, and must see the original documents being presented. If the smart Form I-9 is used, note that using a video conferencing tool, such as Skype, is not permissible.
  • A field has been added that asks for the employee’s citizenship or immigration status, which must be completed with a corresponding numeral (1- 4) as indicated by the employee attestation in Section 1.
  • The online form only now includes dropdown menus common to electronic I-9s, such as which verification document was provided.
  • A box has been added for additional information. Not previously provided, employers may use this new field to make note of other important information, such as a foreign national's Temporary Protected Status, or an internal processing note, such as the employee’s termination date. Keep in mind that any notes included on the Form I-9 may be reviewed in an audit, and should therefore pertain to the purpose of the form.

Section 3—No Changes

The new Form I-9 makes no changes to the reverification information in Section 3. HR managers must be aware, however, that any reverifications completed on or after January 22, 2017 must be completed utilizing the revised form. Employers will still be required to accept any acceptable reverification documents presented, even if they are not the same type of document initially presented.

A General Reminder about Compliance

HR managers are expected to continue to familiarize themselves with immigration-related anti-discrimination laws to ensure compliance. Employers who do not accept valid documents, or who ask too many questions about documents presented by foreign workers are still at risk of being exposed to anti-discrimination complaints.

Potential Penalties

Failure to use the new form beginning January 22, 2017 will expose organizations to financial penalties.

Streamlining Processes with CivicHR

To help our clients ensure compliance with this new federal requirement, the new Form I-9 has already been delivered to your CivicHR government human resource software. The previous form, which is not to be used on or after January 22, should appear in your CivicHR system as “Previous Form I-9” for historical reference only. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has recently released the 2017 W-4, which will also soon be automatically delivered to your CivicHR government human resource software.

If you have any questions, contact your CivicHR account manager.

To learn why government HR employees ae using cloud-based systems to streamline hiring and onboarding processes, download our fact sheet: Four Reasons Government HR Professionals are Using Applicant Tracking Software.

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