December 12th, 2016 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

Important Form I-9 Updates You Need To Know

Man wtiting on notepad

On November 14, 2016, the USCIS published a revised version of Form I-9. USCIS first published a draft version of the new revised Form I-9, allowing 60 days for public review and comment. On March 28, 2016 USCIS published an additional 30-day notice inviting the public to comment on proposed changes to Form I-9. On August 25, 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued its approval for the final version of the new revised Form I-9 (v. 11/14/2016 N), which goes into effect on January 22, 2017.

At this time, employers may choose to use the new revised version (v. 11/16/2016 N) of Form I-9, or they may continue using the previous version of the Form I-9 dated 03/08/2013 N through January 21, 2017. By January 22, 2017, all employers must be using the new revised of Form I-9.

What is Form I-9?

Form I-9 is used to establish both identity and employment authorization for individuals (citizens and non-citizens) hired for employment in the Unites States. All employers must accurately complete and retain Form I-9, the employment eligibility verification form, for every person hired for employment on or after November 6, 1986 in the United States. Form I-9 can be completed electronically or on paper.

Changes For The New Revised Form I-9

The final version of the new revised Form I-9, which was released by USCIS on November 14, 2016, has several important changes to both simplify and guide individuals through form completion. The USCIS has also introduced a “Smart Form” version of Form I-9 for employers who complete the form on paper. The “Smart Form” includes new assistance tools and data validation to prevent common form errors, such as missing required fields and some data population for common issuing authorities in Section 2.

The new revised Form I-9 still remains a two-page document; however, a new supplemental page has been introduced to support individuals that require two or more preparers and/or translators.

Here are some of the changes (broken down by section):

Section 1: Employee Information and Attestation

  • Guidance for individuals with one name (i.e. no last name).
  • Renaming “additional names used” to “other last names used (if any).”
  • Guidance for the optional e-mail field (the employee’s personal or work e-mail is acceptable).
  • Removal of “Do not enter PO Box” for employee address.
  • Citizenship status for ‘alien authorized to work’ now requires the employee to provide one of three document numbers – their Alien Registration Number/USCIS Number, Form I-94 Admission Number, or Foreign Passport with Country of Issuance.
  • “N/A” must be included in any Section 1 form fields that are left blank.

Preparer and/or Translator Certification

  • New question and checkboxes require employees to identify whether a preparer and/or translator (P/T) was used.
  • If two or more P/Ts were used, employees must complete the “Form I-9 Supplement, Section 1 Preparer and/or Translator Certification,” which provides additional certification areas for the individuals assisting with Section 1 completion.

Section 2: Employer or Authorized Representative Review and Verification

  • New citizenship/immigration status field – a numeric value must be entered that corresponds to the employee’s citizenship status from Section 1.
    • A citizen of the United States = 1
    • Noncitizen national of the United States = 2
    • A lawful permanent resident = 3
    • An alien authorized to work = 4
  • A new optional box entitled “Additional Information” to notate any information related to Form I-9, such as employment authorization, E-verify case numbers or employee termination dates.
  • Certification field name changes:
  • “Last Name (given name)” is now called “Last Name of Employer or Authorized Representative”
  • “First Name (given name)” is now called “First Name of Employer or Authorized Representative”
  • Guidance for “Employer Address” to clarify that an actual physical address must be entered and PO Boxes are not accepted. If the company has multiple locations, the employer must provide the most appropriate address that identifies the location of the employer.
  • Clarification regarding the completion of Section 2: the person who physically examines the employee’s original document(s) and completes Section 2 must sign his or her name in the Section 2 signature field.
  • “N/A” must be included in any Section 2 form fields that are left blank.

Section 3: Reverification and Rehires

  • Guidance when completing Section 3 on a separate page: If the original Form I-9 was completed using the previous version, and Section 3 needs to be completed using the new revised version of Form I-9, instructions are to leave the new Citizenship/Immigration Status field blank, (located at the top of Section 2).
  • Guidance when completing Block A of Section 3: If completing Block A of Section 3 (updated name), the employee is required to enter only the part of the name that has changed. For example, if the employee changed only his/her last name, enter the last name in the Last Name field, and then enter “N/A” in the First Name and Middle Name Fields.
  • Guidance when completing Block C of Section 3: For reverification, an employee must present an unexpired document(s) (or a receipt) from either List A or List C showing he or she is still authorized to work. The employee is not required to show the same type of document that he or she has presented previously. Receipts showing that you have applied for an initial grant of employment authorization, or for renewal of your expiring or expired employment authorization, are not acceptable.
  • “N/A” must be included in any Section 3 form fields that are left blank.


  • Instructions have been expanded to 15-pages, which includes:
    • Instructions to support the new revised changes.
    • Expected behavior for the new “Smart Form”.
    • Additional form guidance, in accordance to the M-274.
    • Approved abbreviations for the document titles when completing Section 2.

List of Acceptable Documents

  • No changes have been made.

QR Codes

  • When the “Smart Form” version of Form I-9 is completed, a QR code will generate that contains all the information from Section 1 and Section 2 of Form I-9. These details are used to assist DHS during an audit.

When it comes to your I-9 needs Sterling is here to help. Our latest webinar covers how to avoid common mistakes when completing a Form I-9, requirements for form storage and retention, and examples of Form I-9 non-compliance that have resulted in significant fines. Do not miss the Sterling webinar, “Revised Form I-9: Are You Ready for January 22nd?” on Thursday, January 19th at noon. Reserve your spot today!

In addition, this program has been pre-approved for 1 SHRM credit hour and submitted to the HRCI for pre-approval.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.