Small Business Questions & Answers


Filed under Managing Your Taxes

Ask About the New I-9 Form

by Paymaster Disaster | May 20, 2012

Subject :Taxes

Dear Toolkit,

Didn't I hear somewhere that there was a new I-9? Where is it? If DHS revised it, where did they hide it on their website along with new instructions?


Paymaster Disaster

Dear Paymaster Disaster,

You, and perhaps a few of your small business HR-Payroll-Office-Manager multitasking colleagues, may have heard that a new form was coming, but you probably didn't hear it from the Department of Homeland Security—at least not yet. The promulgation of this new rule has been less than stellar. In fact, the new form is required for all new hires and re-verifications of employment eligibility beginning April 3, 2009.

But there's more! On February 3rd, an OOPS! notice was received, back-dated to January 30th, saying the "NEW" form requirement has been delayed for 60 days until April 3. That notice is here.

The U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) is still in the process of finalizing the correct forms and a revision of their I-9 Handbook for Employers. The revision of the form was brought about by an oxymoron called an Interim Final Rule, which narrows the list of acceptable documents for hiring and re-verification of eligibility for employment. Paper copies of the Form I-9 can be ordered by calling USCIS at 1-800-870-3676.

The Form I-9 is available in English and Spanish. However, only employers in Puerto Rico may have employees complete the Spanish version for their records. Employers in the 50 states and other U.S. territories may use the Spanish version as a translation guide for Spanish-speaking employees, but must complete the English version.

For those who prefer to get their information from the horse's mouth, go to this GPO site to the excruciating details in the Federal Register.

For the rest of us, here are the key changes:

  • Expired documents are no longer acceptable. This change was aimed at reducing identity theft, counterfeiting, and fraud.
  • U.S. nationals and U.S. citizens have separate status boxes in Section 1. Section 1 of the Form I-9 has been changed to include four, rather than three, status options. A U.S. national must select a separate box in Section 1 than should be selected by a U.S. citizen.(U.S. nationals include folks born in American Samoa so if you're hiring a lot of those, be sure to point out this new box!) DHS says they made this change to facilitate prosecuting individuals who make false claims to U.S. citizenship.
  • Legacy Employment Authorization Cards and Temporary Resident Cards are no longer acceptable. DHS no longer issues Form I-688 ("Temporary Resident Card") and Forms I-688A and I-688B ("Employment Authorization Cards"). Inasmuch as these have all expired by now, it's a moot point. DHS now issues Form I-766 ("Employment Authorization Document"), which remains a valid List A document for I-9 purposes.
  • Some (albeit obscure) documents have been added as acceptable evidence of identity and of employment authorization. DHS added the U.S. Passport Card and passports from the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the Form I-9 as valid List A documents.

Good luck with the challenging new paperwork.