New Form I-9 Changes Employees Should Know

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If you plan on applying for a new job this year, you must complete a new version of the Form I-9 when you are hired. As of January 22 2017, newly-hired employees are required to complete this new form within three days of being hired.

Much of the form remains the same as the previous version, but there are some very important changes that employees need to know.

Form I-9 Changes: What Employees Need to Know

Making a mistake on the new Form I-9 can cause problems down the road, and even lead to an investigation by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The changes are meant to clarify the form and what information is being requested while making the form easier to fill out. Changes have been made to Section 1 and Section 2 of the Form I-9, as discussed below, and Section 3 remains unchanged.

1) Changes to Section 1 of Form I-9

Section 1 of Form I-9 is for new hires to fill out on their own, so this section has the biggest impact on employees. There have been a few changes made to Section 1 of Form I-9, including:

  • Fields Without Answers Cannot Be Left Blank. In previous versions of the Form I-9, if a new hire could not provide information for a particular field, it could simply be left blank. This is no longer the case. Any field that does not contain information provided by the new hire must be marked with an “N/A”. For instance, if the new hire does not have a middle initial or an apartment number, this field must be marked with “N/A”.
  • Foreign Nationals Can Provide Less Information. On the new I-9 Form, foreign nationals attesting that they are authorized to work in the United States only need to provide one of following:
    • Alien registration number;
    • Foreign passport number; or
    • Form I-94 admission number.
  • Employees Must Actively Indicate They Did Not Receive Assistance from a Translator or Preparer. Workers must actively check a box to indicate that they did not have a translator or preparer help them with the form.

2) Changes to Section 2 of Form I-9

Section 2 of Form I-9 is to be completed by employers. The only constraint on this section that employees should be aware of is that any identification and employment status verification documents must be presented to the employer in person so that the employer can verify the documentation.

3) New Format Change: The Smart I-9

Employees also have the option of completing the Form I-9 in a new format online, which can be filled out by the employee and then printed as a hard copy that can be completed by the employer. The online version of the Form I-9 is referred to as the “Smart I-9” as the online format is designed to help employees understand and complete the form easily.

The Smart I-9 is separated from the instruction sheet for how to complete the form. Instead, instructions for how to accurately and correctly complete each field of the form are embedded as a popup that can be viewed when the employee hovers the cursor icon over the field in question. Additionally, the Smart I-9 can auto populate blank fields with the requisite “N/A”, and the Smart I-9 scans the form to check whether the employee has completed all of the required fields of the form before printing.

If you notice that your new employer is not implementing the new Form I-9 changes, of if you have another employment law issue in California, contact one of our experienced Los Angles employment law attorneys at Hennig Ruiz. We will be happy to help you.