Last week, we reported that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCSIS) had announced it would release a new I-9 form by November 22. Well, they met and exceeded the goal by releasing the form on Monday of this week… more than a week early. The new form may be used immediately but will not be mandatory until January 22, 2017. You can continue to use the current form dated 2013 until then. The address to download the new form is the same. www.uscis.gov/i-9
The new form, which requires the use of Adobe Reader to open, can be printed blank or filled out in Adobe Reader. There is still a lot that is not known as there is a new set of instructions which is separate from the .pdf and there will be a new M-274 manual for the I-9 yet to be published.
So… here’s what we do know. The form can be used as a blank printed form or electric fillable form. It is the same form, the difference is when you open it if you choose to print a blank form or choose to fill it out and use the functionality built in to the form. Either way, you will need to ultimately print the form for the employer and employee to sign the form and if any translators or preparers are used, for them to sign as well. This is NOT an electronic I-9 as defined by the regulations as far as we know at this point.
If you pint the document, it will be pretty familiar. The form still contains the same three sections. Section 1 is the employee information, Section 2 is the Employer used section with the same lists of documents as on the most recent I-9. The instructions are a separate document now and have several more sections of clarification. USCIS has said that a new manual is forthcoming. The instructions are almost twice as many pages as the old ones.. I’m afraid to know what the new M-274 will look like since it’s already over 70 pages if you print it.
There are some helpful features if you choose to use the form as a fillable form in Adobe Reader. For instance, many of the instructions for each line are clickable on the form. Many of the fields have drop downs for the list of information that needs to be in that field. For example the document fields have the list of accepted documents in each of Lists A, B, and C. Anywhere there is a date to be added, there is a drop down calendar that you can click on a specific date. There are also features that will be available only if you fill out the form electronically such as QR codes that will be generated that are supposed to help speed up an audit process. Finally there are buttons on the bottom of each form to check for mistakes. These ensure that fields that must be filled in (even if it’s just N/A) are filled in and not skipped.
I have played with the form a little and I’m sure immigration and employment attorneys all over the country are doing the same. There’s still a lot of information to come out and there are probably some features I haven’t mentioned or functionality that I have missed but it will come out in coming weeks. Issues like no QR code when I filled it out here in the office still need to be resolved (the QR code isn’t required at all).
Our advice at this point is to continue to use the old 2013 form for now until we can get more information. If you don’t have any of the old form and were planning on downloading it, it is no longer available on the USCIS site. You will be downloading the new form but don’t get concerned. Just print the new form and instructions. It’s very familiar.
More information to come.