Employers Must Start Using a New I-9 Form Soon

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently published an announcement in the Federal Register that it is introducing a new version of Form I-9.  All employers will have to use the new form after April 30, 2020.

Although the form notes that the version date is 10/21/2019, it only became available for use as of January 31, 2020. Employers can continue to use the prior version of the form, which is dated 07/17/2017, but only until April 30, 2020. After April 30, 2020, USCIS will no longer accept the earlier versions and notes that employers who do not use the updated form or complete forms properly may be subject to penalties. The revision date is printed on the bottom right of the form.

What changed?

USCIS made minor changes to the form and the instructions. Only users of the online form will notice these changes since USCIS simply updated the names of two countries whose names have changed recently, The Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and The Republic of North Macedonia (formerly Macedonia). These changes appear in the section related to the country issuing an employee’s passport.

In the instructions, USCIS made some clarifications and updates including:

  • Who can act as an authorized representative for an employer.
  • Links to USCIS website.
  • The list of acceptable documents.
  • Completing a paper I-9.
  • Department of Homeland Security privacy notice.

What else do you need to know about the new form?

The Federal Register notice also addresses some common concerns employers may have about the new form and when to use it for current employees. Note that:

  • Employers do not need to complete a new form for current employees who have a properly completed form already on file. If an I-9 audit shows that an employee’s form is not properly completed, employers should bring it into compliance immediately.
  • If an employee’s I-9 form is compliant, requiring new I-9 forms may be a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision.
  • The Spanish language I-9 is available on the USCIS website for use in Puerto Rico only.

Bottom Line

Are you I-9 compliant?

→ Employers must verify the identity and that each person whom they would like to hire is authorized to work in the U.S. This process is done on the USCIS Form I-9 for each new employee. Employers must maintain these I-9 forms for a minimum of one year after employment ends, or three years after the hire date, whichever is later.

→ Employers needing assistance ensuring that their I-9 forms comply with federal regulations should review all I-9s for current and former employees and contact us with any questions or issues that come up. Given the potential civil and criminal penalties USCIS could impose, we recommend reviewing the I-9 files on a regular, rotating schedule.

Sonseere H. Goldenberg has joined Felhaber Larson and practices in the areas of U.S. immigration and nationality law. She has over 20 years of immigration experience successfully helping families and business achieve their immigration goals.