By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law


On January 31, 2020, USCIS published a notice announcing a new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. This new version contains minor changes to the form and its instructions. Employers should begin using this updated form version date of “Rev. 10/21/2019” as of January 31, 2020. However, employers may also continue using the prior version of Form I-9 (Rev. 07/17/2017 N) until April 30, 2020. USCIS is allowing employers this additional time to make necessary updates and adjust their business processes.

As of May 1, 2020, the prior version of Form I-9 will no longer be valid for use and will be obsolete. Furthermore, as of May 1, 2020, employers who fail to use the new Form I-9 (Rev. 10/21/2019) will be in violation under section 274A of the INA, as enforced by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

But remember - employers should not complete the new Form I-9 for current employees who already have a properly completed Form I-9 on file, unless reverification applies.

So why did the USCIS issue a new Form I-9? Are there any significant changes to the Form I-9? The USCIS issues new Form I-9s every several years. The newest version is the 14th version since its inception after the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in 1986. There are not any significant changes in the latest Form I-9. If one puts the old version and the new version side by side, the only differences are the dates of issuance (backdated to “10/21/2019” the date that Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved newest Form I-9 version) and the expiration date – 10/31/2022.

What are the insignificant changes in the Form I-9? If one is using the smart Form I-9 (fillable Form I-9 on a computer) USCIS revised the Country of Issuance field in Section 1 and the Issuing Authority field (when selecting a foreign passport) in Section 2 to add Eswatini and North Macedonia per those countries’ recent name changes from Swaziland and Republic of Macedonia, respectively.

Additionally, USCIS added a few helpful clarifying instructions (though it is doubtful that many HR reps or immigration attorneys will read the 15 pages of instructions), including:
  1. Clarified who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer with the following new language:
You may designate an authorized representative to act on your behalf to complete Section 2. An authorized representative can be any person you designate to complete and sign Form I-9 on your behalf. You are liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations of the employer sanctions laws committed by the person designated to act on your behalf.
This clarification is especially helpful in dealing with the remotely hired employee.
  1. Clarified use of “N/A” in Section 2 – If one enters document information in the List A column (or alternatively List B and C columns), you do not need to enter “N/A” in the column(s) which are not being used.
  1. Provided clarifications on acceptable documents for Form I-9 as follows:
  1. USCIS has added a notation which indicates that the List C Employment Authorization Document issued by DHS (List C #7) “does not include the Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766) from List A.”
  1. USCIS has also added a new instruction noting that the List B ID card issued by federal, state, or local government agencies or entities “does not include the driver’s license or ID card issued by a State or outlying possession of the United States as described in B1 of the List of Acceptable Documents.”

If you have any questions concerning the new Form I-9 or other compliance issues, feel free to contact me at bbuchanan@sblimmigration.com.