The Department of Homeland Security proposed and asked for public comment on the 13th iteration of the Form I-9.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced in late November that it would begin seeking comment on the revised version of the hiring document. If the proposed form should make it through the public comment period, employers should be prepared for it's arrival. The new "smart" Form I-9 was designed to reduce mistakes, but if there's no preparation for the pending iteration of the document then employers may continue making mistakes. The new form, which was introduced through the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, is very important because mistakes can turn into costly fines. It is crucial to understand what the smart Form I-9 asks new hires and employers to do, how to correct errors and omissions and what storage guidelines there are.
"The smart Form I-9 may alter how employers fill out the document."
Updates for the smart Form I-9
Once it is approved, the smart Form I-9 will be available for download from the USCIS website. It's unclear, at this point, whether the government will require employers to use the latest version of the hiring document, or allow them to stick with older copies. In the past, companies have been it was OK to use previous versions of the Form I-9, but that may change upon the release of the updated paperwork.
The smart Form I-9 will have numerous changes that may alter how employers fill out the document - changes that could influence the government to decide that employers should be using only that version. It is important to note that, though these updates include various digitized features, the new form is not considered an electronic Form I-9. Listed below are the alterations included in the current iteration of the new smart Form I-9:
- Drop down lists of acceptable documents.
- The ability to enter multiple preparers and translators. Each of these individuals will be required to complete their own preparer or translator sections.
- Help messages associated with the various Form I-9 sections.
- Some fields will include validation features to ensure the correct information is given.
- QR codes to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement with audits.
- A dedicated area in Section 2 for additional information employers would like to make note of.
- An "Other Last Names Used" field, rather than the "Other Names Used" one.
In addition to those alternations, the new form would also include a change to the sort of documents some foreign nationals are required to present. These individuals would be able to choose between their Form I-94 number or foreign passport information, rather than being required to provide both.
Reviewing pending changes to the Form I-9
It is important that employers look at the proposed smart Form I-9 and set up a plan to transition to the updates documents. This is especially true if the government decides that employers should be required to use the new version, rather than allowing them to stick with older iterations of the form. While the new Form I-9 is designed to reduce the number of mistakes on the documents, if employers don't prepare for them they may still be prone to errors, and this could prove detrimental later on.
Mistakes on the Form I-9 are costly. Even if the issues with the documents are unintentional, ICE hands down fines for all sorts of omissions and errors and the penalties can add up quickly. Employers can take preemptive action to avoid these fines by making sure they fully understand any changes to the Form I-9, as well as guidelines for filling out fields and making changes.
With I-9 Advantage employers can ensure their compliance with Form I-9 and E-Verify requirements.
Stay tuned to I-9 Advantage for updates, and webinars on new legislation.