Ever since President Donald J. Trump and his administration took office in January, the White House has taken a hardline stance on immigration. As such, employers must be prepared for certain adjustments to their laws they must abide by when hiring and employing immigrant workers.
One of these adjustments is the newly updated Employment Eligibility Verification form, more commonly referred to as the I-9 form. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a revised version of the I-9 form November 14. According to the updates, all employers should have begun using the form effective January 22, 2017. Any businesses still using the old I-9 form must immediately switch to the new version or risk potential penalties for noncompliance.
USCIS has taken certain steps to make the new version as convenient as possible, creating an interactive PDF that can be accessed at the above link. It includes handy drop-down menus, automatic prompts to verify correct information, error notifications in real time, built-in help features and a unique barcode for each form.
Of course, if desired, you still have the option of printing out a blank form and completing the paperwork by hand, or you may fill out the form electronically and print it out. Employers should still print and sign the documents and keep hard copies in storage.
Differences from old forms
What makes the new I-9 employment form different from the previous version? Here are a few of the notable changes:
- What had previously been the “Other Names Used” field is now replaced by the more specific “Other Last Names Used” field. This increases privacy and avoids potential discrimination against transgender people.
- Any foreign nationals who have authorization to work in the United States were, under the old system, required to provide an I-94 number and foreign passport information. Now, authorized foreign nationals can simply provide either one of these (or an alien registration number).
- The previous form had just one signature field for translators and/or preparers, which made it difficult if multiple people assisted in filling out the form. There are now spots for up to five preparers and/or translators to add their signatures.
Although these might not seem like particularly substantive changes, it is important to comply with the new versions of the forms. You do not, however, have to go back and re-do any old I-9 forms you have already completed for your existing employees. Those employees are grandfathered into the new system.
For more information on the new I-9 forms, the differences from the old version and how the change could affect your business, consult a knowledgeable immigration law attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
BoltNagi is a widely respected immigration law firm serving individuals, businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.