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New I-9 Form: What You Need to Know to Make the Switch

Labor Laws icon5 min read

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Beginning January 22, 2017, all employers must now use the new Form I-9 for verification of employment eligibility in the United States. In November of last year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office released form revisions for I-9, allowing employers until the end of January to make the switch to the new form version.

Just days before Christmas, the USCIS surprised us all with the release of multiple form revisions to be effectively immediately. According to the USCIS website, any filing postmarked on or after December 23, 2016 must include the revised forms or they will not be accepted. Filings postmarked prior to December 23 will be accepted until February 21, 2017 with the exception of Form N-400 which must be the revised form. You can find a list of all the affected forms here.

Have you filed the new Form I-9 for new employees? Let’s see what’s new in the form to help you understand and prepare you for filing the latest I-9 revised form.

What changed with the new I-9 form?

According to USCIS, the following changes have been made to Form I-9:

New instruction page

The new I-9 form now includes instructions completely separate from the actual form, also available in Spanish. The 15 pages of form instructions include general instructions as well as section-by-section guidance.

Section 1

Section 1 now has updated verbiage for clarity like asking for “other last names used” rather than “other names used.” This section also streamlines certification for certain foreign nationals.


Smart form

To help reduce the number of errors, the revised I-9 form has been updated to be a “smart” form and should be easier to complete on a computer. The smart form uses data validation to ensure things like the correct number of digits are entered in a specific field, among other smart field features. It also includes drop-down lists, calendars, prompts, and field instructions. When the completed form is printed, a QR code is automatically generated for the form. You can also select a button to completely clear the form if you need to start over.


Additional information box

The “additional information box” gives space for employers to add any additional information including any additional documents provided, employee termination dates, or form retention dates. No more writing in the margins!


Multiple preparers and translators

Now, employers can list multiple preparers and translators who assisted in the form’s completion.


Form I-9 Fines

Where there are new revisions, there are new fees. Across many USCIS forms, filing fees and penalty fines have increased due to inflation, some increasing as much as 96%. Form I-9 will experience the greatest fine hike with increases as much as double per instance of violation. There are certain practices to commit to and others to avoid in order to prevent I-9 violations and penalties.


How to avoid I-9 penalties


  • Verify the identity and employment authorization of any person hired in your organization after November 6, 1986.
  • Complete and retain Form I-9 for each employee. (Fine for violation: $216-$2,156 per form.)


  • Discriminate against any of your employees based on their citizenship or immigration status or their national origin. (Fine for violation: $445- $17,816 per violation.)
  • Retaliate against employees if they file charges or participate in investigation with the DOJ’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), contest action of unfair documentary practices or discrimination from the employer, or assert their rights under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  • Ask for more or different documents than those required to verify employment eligibility or specify certain documents over others.
  • Reject reasonable documents.
  • Hire, recruit for a fee, or refer for a fee any unauthorized alien you know to be unauthorized to work in the United States. (Fine for violation: $539- $21,563 per unauthorized alien. Engaging in this pattern could end in fees up to $3,000 per unauthorized alien or up to six months in prison.)


Form I-9 and Work Eligibility Resources

Employers can use a free online service from USCIS called E-Verify to confirm any new employee’s eligibility to legally work in the U.S. E-Verify compares information provided on the I-9 to data from the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security. This service will not disclose citizenship or immigration status of employees to employers.

Employers will not be able to create a case within E-Verify until the employee accepts an offer of employment and completes Section 1 of their I-9 form. Then, employers must create the E-Verify case by the third business day after the employee begins working for the employer.

Employers must enroll in the free program before using and enrolled employers must display proper posters at your company’s hiring location.

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