As the Trump administration settles in, those of us who counsel employers have cautioned to “expect the unexpected.” Certainly, the last five weeks have brought a bevy of twists and turns. However, one consistent theme from the new administration has been a tough stance on immigration-related matters. Accordingly, employers must pay close attention to the newly revised Employment Eligibility Verification — which we all refer to more commonly as the I-9 form — that is now in effect.
As we reported last October, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Department issued an updated version of the I-9 form on November 14, 2016. According to USCIS, all employers are required to have begun using the new form as of January 22, 2017. In other words, if you are still using the prior version of the I-9 form, you must immediately switch to the latest version.
The new I-9 form, which can be accessed here, has been referred to as the “Smart I-9” because employers can now access an interactive pdf version of the form, which includes a variety of technical advantages, such as:
While these advances will make it easier to complete I-9 forms, it is important to remember that the process is not completely electronic. Employers still have the option to print out a blank form and complete their entries the old fashioned way — with a pen. Or, they can fill in fields electronically and print out the completed form. But either way, the forms still must be physically printed and signed (there is no provision for electronic signatures) and stored in hard copy format.
In addition to the technical advances, the new I-9 forms contain a few substantive differences as well. Some of these changes include:
Effective immediately, make sure that you are using the new I-9 form for all of your hires. (It is not necessary to go back and re-complete I-9 forms for existing employees). Given the administration’s focus in immigration, as well as recently announced penalty increases for I-9 violations, this is an area in which all employers should exercise extreme care.