U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published a new version of the Form I-9 used by employers to verify employment eligibility of new employees, which employers will be required to use beginning Jan. 22, 2017.

Key dates and changes:

  • Employer must switch to the new version by Jan. 22. After Jan. 21, all previous versions of Form I-9 will be invalid.
  • Until that date, employers may continue to use the current version (which is marked with a version date of 03/08/2013) or use the new version (which is marked with a version date of 11/14/2016).

Background: The new version of Form I-9, published Monday, is easier to fill out electronically and contains drop-down menus and calendars, embedded instructions at each field, and additional prompts to verify that information is filled out correctly. Among other features intended to reduce paperwork errors, the button “Click to Finish” at the end of each page prompts the form to check to ensure that all fields were filled in. The form also automatically populates certain fields based on information entered in other fields.

Employers must complete Form I-9 each time they hire a person to perform labor or services in the U.S. in return for wages or other remuneration. Though employers do not submit this form to the government, they must retain a Form I-9 for each employee for three years after the date of hire or one year after the employee’s employment ends, whichever is later. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducts audits of employers’ Forms I-9 and if errors are found, may impose significant fines ranging from $216 to $2,156 per employee. The government recently increased these fine amounts by regulation from the previous range of $110 to $1,100 per employee.

B·A·L Analysis: The new version of the Form I-9 is available on the USCIS website. Employers should become familiar with the new version of the form and its changes and note the mandatory transition deadline of Jan. 21. In addition to being easier to fill out electronically, the new version also removes the requirement that foreign nationals who are authorized to work provide both their Form I-94 number and their foreign passport in Section 1 of the form. However, the new Form I-9 does not require that employers or employees provide any new information, and does not alter the list of documents an employee may present to demonstrate work authorization.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact BerryApplemanLeiden@bal.com.

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