New I-9 Form Required For Employees In 2017 - DoctorsManagement New I-9 Form Required For Employees In 2017 - DoctorsManagement
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New I-9 Form Required For Employees In 2017

 On Nov. 14, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, issued an updated version of Form I-9: Employment Eligibility Verification. Under federal law, every employer that hires an individual for employment in the United States must complete Form I-9.

The updated form replaces a form that was issued in 2013 and expired on March 31, 2016. The updated form includes changes that should make using both the paper and electronic versions more intuitive and easier to use. Employers will be allowed to continue using the 2013 form until Jan. 21, 2017. Exclusive use of the updated form is expected by Jan. 22, 2017. The new form expires on Aug. 31, 2019.

The employer is obligated to provide the Form I-9, which consists of three sections, to any new hire and ensure that the employee correctly fills out and signs Section 1. Then, after inspecting the employee’s documents, the employer must complete and sign Section 2. The employer is obligated to finish this process by no later than the third business day of employment. Section 3 is completed later, if the employee is rehired or must be re-verified because his or her work authorization is set to expire.

Ever since the first version of the Form I-9 was published in 1987, employers have struggled to complete the form correctly. Even though the form is relatively short — currently two pages — the Form I-9 process can be confusing, and employers frequently make mistakes. Unfortunately, those mistakes often lead to costly fines.

Form’s field changes and updates

According to USCIS, the field updates and changes to the Form I-9 will make it easier for individuals to complete either a printed or an electronic copy of this form. The most significant change is the creation of a smart Form I-9 that users will be able to access and fill out on USCIS’s website. This smart form includes a number of new features, which are all designed to guide the user through the process and reduce errors.

The new form:

  • Asks for an individual’s “other last names used” instead of “other names used”
  • Streamlines certification for certain foreign nationals
  • Prompts the person completing the form to include correct information
  • Includes fields to enter multiple preparers and translators
  • Dedicates a field to include additional information (this information will not need to be added on the margins anymore)
  • Provides a supplemental page for preparers and translators

The electronic version of the form includes the following:

  • Drop-down menus
  • Calendars for filling in dates
  • On-screen instructions for each field
  • Easy access to the full set of instructions
  • An option to clear the entire form and
    start over

This form is not a true “electronic” Form I-9 within the meaning of the USCIS regulations, but instead a “functionality tool” to ensure that the form is completed correctly.

Using the new smart Form I-9 is not required. Employers will still have the option to simply print out the form and complete it entirely by hand. In fact, USCIS has indicated that users will be allowed to complete all sections of the Form I-9 on paper or computer(s). Even if the employer chooses to use the smart version of the form, the form must still be printed out and signed by the employee and the employer representative. Employers utilizing E-Verify will still need to separately create “cases” and submit for confirmation. In addition, when employers choose to print the electronic version, a quick print response is now expected.

Steps practice should take

Employers should become familiar with the new Form I-9 and transition to exclusive use of the updated form by Jan. 22, 2017.

Employers should also determine whether they will use the manual or electronic versions of Form I-9. The electronic version may help employers avoid some common mistakes, but using it may require additional training.

USCIS has separated the instructions from the actual form allowing USCIS to include more detailed information on how to complete each field in the form. Please visit the USCIS website for more information regarding the new “Smart” Form I-9.

Philip Dickey, MPH, PHR, SHRM-CP (pdickey@drsmgmt.com). The author is a Partner and Director of Human Resources at DoctorsManagement.