By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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On November 24, 2015, the USCIS announced they are seeking public comment on a newly revised version of the I-9 form in order to reduce technical errors and address frequent points of confusion for both employers and employees. In order to seek comments, USCIS published a 60-day federal register notice. Once published, this will be the 13th version of the I-9 form, which arose out of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. Despite the proposed changes, the new I-9 form will not be electronic, though it will be smarter.

USCIS has proposed a number of changes, including: (1) certain fields, such as the correct number of digits for a Social Security number, will be validated to ensure information is entered correctly; (2) it will generate a quick-response matrix barcode, or QR code, once the form is printed, which can be used to streamline audit processes; (3) new drop-down list for the Lists of Acceptable Documents in Section 2, including a list of “universally used abbreviations”; (4) In Section 1, “Other Names Used” field will be replaced with “Other Last Names Used” (so no more listings of Bubba); (5) Some foreign nationals will only need to provide either, rather than both, their Form I-94 number or foreign passport information; (6) a new dedicated area in Section 2 to enter additional information that employers are currently required to notate in the margins of the form; (7) provides instructions on the screen that users can access to complete each field; (8) separates the instructions from the I-9 form; (9) explains in the instructions that asylees and refugees are good examples of those who should check “An alien authorized to work”; (10) clarifies the proper use of the Spanish version of the I-9 form in the instructions and discusses using it as a translation tool; and (11) employers will be able to enter multiple preparers/translators, each of whom must complete a separate preparer and/or translator section.

The period for comment ends on January 25, 2016 so you will need to act quickly to file your comments electronically. The USCIS is looking for feedback in four areas: the I-9’s usefulness; burden on employers and new hires; the quality, utility, and clarity of the information requested; and any improvements which can minimize the employer’s burden.
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