On January 31, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published on its website a new Form I-9, which employers should’ve begun using. Employers who hired an employee after January 31 could still use the old form, but starting May 1, 2020, all employers must use the new Form I-9, which is dated 10/21/19 and expires 10/31/2022.
The California Chamber of Commerce Labor Law Helpline has received the following questions about the new Form I-9:
Do all my employees have to fill out the new form?
No. When new forms are issued by the USCIS, existing employees are not required to fill out a new form. As long as employees completed a current Form I-9, listed acceptable identity and work authorization documents, provided unexpired original documents to the employer to view, and signed and dated the form at the time of hire, they are not required to fill out a new Form I-9.
Am I required to give new hires a copy of the 15 pages of instructions when I have them fill out the Form I-9?
No. While the I-9 instructions must be provided to all new hires at the time that the form is filled out, you are not required to give each employee a copy. The instructions may be retained and used for other new hires.
I have Spanish-speaking employees. Can they complete the Spanish Form I-9?
No. You may provide the Spanish Form I-9 and instructions as an aid to Spanish-speaking employees, but the Form I-9 must be completed in English.
I know that a parent or guardian may complete a section on the Form I-9 when the employee is a minor who cannot present a List B document, but who should sign the form — the minor or the parent?
Neither the employee nor the parent should sign the Form I-9 when the employee is a minor. The USCIS Handbook for Employers M-274 requires that you insert the following sentence in the signature block in lieu of a signature whenever an employee is under 18 years of age and cannot present a List B document: “Individual Under Age 18.” Then, the parent or guardian should complete the Preparer and/or Translator Certification field.
If a new hire does not provide a Social Security number (SSN), does that invalidate the Form I-9?
No. Even though there is a space on the form for the employee to put an SSN, the USCIS requires an SSN only if the employer participates in the E-Verify Program. If that is the case, the employee must provide the SSN.
Can I complete Section 1 for an employee who is having a hard time filling out the form?
Yes. You may act as a preparer or a translator on the Form I-9, but you must then fill out the section which indicates that you acted as the preparer or translator and sign the form. The employee also is required to sign the form.
COVID-19 and Remotely Inspecting Documentation
Don’t forget — the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has deferred the physical presence requirements for employers that have employees “taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19,” allowing such employers to inspect Section 2 identity and employment eligibility documentation remotely — via video link, fax or email, for example — within three business days of hire, and the employer must retain copies of these documents.
Once normal business operations resume, employees whose documents underwent remote verification must report to their employer within three business days for official in-person document verification.
For answers to other questions you may have, please see the Handbook for Employers M-274, or contact the CalChamber Labor Law Helpline.
CalChamber has added the new Form I-9 English and Spanish versions to the HRCalifornia website, along with the Instructions for Form I-9 (and Spanish) and the Form I-9 Supplement (and Spanish). All these forms are available for free.