Form I-9, which verifies eligibility to work in the United States, underwent an update this month. The changes took effect on Jan. 22 and the penalties for using an outdated or improperly filed form went up in tandem.
The updated form features the same fundamental information, but with more precise instruction and an optional “smart form” for digital users. The PDF version of the form is more friendly for filling in different fields on a computer screen, but still must be printed and signed manually.
The new “smart form” also auto-populates specific fields and prompts that everything is completed before a user moves on.
For non-citizens, the new I-9 requests only an alien registration number, foreign passport number or Form I-94 admission number. The previous version required two of the three. It also allows for up to five preparers or translators to sign instead of giving just one field when multiple parties are involved.
What this means for employers
While the changes are minor, and the first since 2013, indications from the Trump administration are that eligibility-related documents will be monitored closely. Fees for filing errors or for using the now-outdated 2013 form have nearly doubled, so it's important that employers are watching their documentation carefully.
Employees starting before Jan. 22 do not need to use the new form, but it's important that HR teams are aware of the changes and make a fast transition to the new paperwork.
Ultimately, I-9 is still secondary to physically verifying employment eligibility documentation, such as an alien registration or passport number. Anyone hired at your business or university must be working in the country legally or both employer and employee will be subject to higher penalties.