New I-9 Forms–Must be used by May 1, 2020


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new version of the I-9 employment eligibility verification form. The form is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. 

The new form can be found here: 

  • • The new edition of the Form I-9 is dated 10/21/2019 but will not become mandatory until May 1, 2020. 

  • • Through April 30, employers can choose to use the previous edition dated 07/17/2017 or the new edition. 

  • • All U.S. employers must properly complete the Form I-9 for each person they hire for employment in the U.S., including both citizens and noncitizens. 

  • • Employers must retain the completed forms for a designated period and make them available for inspection when called to do so. 

What has changed about the new I-9 Form? 

The new edition of Form I-9 lists additional countries in the Country of Issuance field in Section 1, which are visible only when a user completes the fillable form on a computer. Other revisions to Form I-9 instructions include: 

  • • Clarification on who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer; 

  • • Updated USCIS website addresses; 

  • • Clarifications pertaining to acceptable documents; 

  • • An updated process for requesting the paper Form I-9; and 

  • • An update to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Privacy Notice. 

Completing I-9s When the Employer’s Representative Works From Home 

During the pandemic, most employers are implementing flexible working arrangements, including remote “work-from-home” options. What happens when the usual authorized representative is not on-site to review documents for timely completion of the I-9 form? The DHS is inflexible on the regulation requiring review of original documents, and I-9 guidance specifically prohibits reviewing or examining documents “via webcam.” 

However, the I-9 rules grant broad permission for employers to designate an authorized representative to review the documents and complete page 2, including personnel officers, foremen, agents or notary public. DHS does not require the authorized representative to have specific agreements or other documentation for Form I-9 purposes. 

One change to the new version of I-9 clarifies in the instructions that an employer’s authorized representative can be “any person you designate to complete and sign Form I-9 on your behalf.” 

Under the circumstances raised by COVID-19, DHS will consider “any person” even to include a family member or household member. The employer must take steps to ensure that the person understands the obligation and takes the responsibility seriously. The I-9 instructions state: 

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. 

Employers should ensure that the new form is integrated into their employment eligibility verification systems and processes in time for May 1, 2020. 

This summary is based upon what we know as of this writing. No assurance of the completeness, comprehensiveness, correctness, or currency of the information is provided. The materials and information presented are not, are not intended to be, and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice. Receipt of the information alone does not create an attorney-client relationship. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult with a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your situation. 

The Alabama State Bar requires the following disclaimer in lawyer advertising: No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. 

If you have questions, call Capell & Howard at 334-241-8000 and ask for one of our employment lawyers: Barbara Wells, Christopher Weller, Brooke Lawson, Carla Gilmore, Mai Lan Isler, or Blake Brookshire. Or, visit our web page at for contact info and the latest alerts. 

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