On November 14, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) released a new version of the Form I-9, which will become mandatory on January 22, 2017. The 11/14/16 version of the Form I-9 contains substantive changes including adding fields and revising some fields in Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the form. It also includes the release of a “smart” Form I-9 which is a fillable pdf version of the form, that, when completed on a computer connected to the internet, has additional features designed to help reduce errors. Some of these “smart” features include the ability to access detailed instructions for each field by moving your cursor over the field, drop down menus of abbreviations for Acceptable Documents, and automatic inclusion of “N/A” in fields once certain selections have been made.
Another significant change is that the Instructions to the 11/14/16 version of the Form I-9 have increased from 6 pages to 15 pages. The Instructions contain detailed information on how to complete each field of the Form I-9 and also include references to the M-274 (Handbook for Employers – Guidance for Completing the Form I-9). Although the Form I-9 has changed USCIS has not yet released a revised M-274. USCIS has announced that it is working on it and hope for a release in early January, 2017, but no later than January 22, 2017 when use of the new Form I-9 becomes mandatory. Employers may want to wait until the new M-274 is released to implement use of the new Form I-9 so that they have the opportunity to review all available information from USCIS on the changes to the Form I-9.
Employers are also cautioned that the “smart” version of the new Form I-9 is not an electronic Form I-9 as it does not conform to the regulatory requirements for electronic Form I-9s. So while the Form I-9 can be completed on a computer, it must be printed and signed and stored as a paper Form I-9.