Benefits & Comp 5 min

What New I-9 and W-4 Forms Mean for Your HR Department

May 28, 2020

Wondering how to handle the new I-9 form and new W-4 form in light of COVID-19? You’ve come to the right place. Let’s get to it.

What’s New About the New I-9 Form for 2020?

On January 31, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new I-9 form in electronic and printable versions. This new version is dated Rev. 10/21/2019. Form I-9 is required to verify the identity and employment eligibility of any individual hired in the United States. USCIS made minor updates and clarifications to existing information in this new version, namely:

  • Adding Eswatini and North Macedonia to the Country of Issuance field in Section 1 and the foreign passport issuing authority field in Section 2 per those countries’ recent name changes. These changes are only visible when completing the electronic fillable Form I-9.
  • Clarifying who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer
  • Updating USCIS website addresses
  • Providing clarifications on acceptable documents
  • Updating the process for requesting the paper Form I-9
  • Updating the DHS Privacy Notice

How and When Do I Need to Use the New I-9 Form?

In short, you use the new I-9 form exactly like the old one (it must be completed and submitted upon hiring a new employee), but if your business is operating remotely, you have until June 18, 2020 to begin using the new version. If your business is operating on-premises (in-person), the old version has been obsolete since April 30, 2020.

NOTE: You do not need to complete the new I-9 form for current employees who already have a properly completed form on file; doing so may be considered discrimination. Read on for a more detailed explanation.

More Background Information About the New I-9 Form

Since the only significant changes were to add Eswatini and North Macedonia to the Country of Issuance and Issuing Authority in Sections 1 and 2, you will likely not notice a difference in the way you use the new I-9 form, unless you are hiring employees from those countries or you have existing employees whose identification documents are from those countries.

Originally, all employers would have been required to begin using the new form after March 31, 2020; however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, that deadline has been extended multiple times for remote businesses, with the latest extension occurring on May 14. This latest extension allows remote businesses to use the old I-9 form until June 18, 2020, after which it will be obsolete. You can find more details, including additional allowances made for verification documents and onsite employers, on the USCIS website.

USCIS I-9 Central Homepage

It is important to note that employees who have already filled out an I-9 form do not need to fill out the new I-9 form unless they are required to re-verify their eligibility. Re-verification typically applies to lawful permanent residents and conditional permanent residents who have been issued temporary documents. However, you should read the specific details about re-verification found here:

USCIS I-9: Completing Section 3, Re-verification and Rehires

This is important because requesting employees who are not required to re-verify to do so may be a violation of Immigration and Naturalization anti-discrimination code and punishable by law.

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What’s New About the New W-4 Form for 2020?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has created a new W-4 form in an effort to make filling out the form simpler for employees. It uses more straightforward language that should make it easier for employees to accurately fill out the section related to withholdings. The new version replaces withholding allowances (which are no longer used due to the elimination of personal and dependency exemptions) with a simple calculation for claiming dependents and a new section for individuals with multiple jobs.

How and When Do I Need to Use the New W-4 Form?

All employees who were first paid after 2019 must fill out the new W-4 form, and any employee who wishes to adjust their withholdings must now use the new W-4 form to do so. You may ask existing employees who have already filled out a W-4 form to fill out the new W-4 form; however, they are not required to do so.

You can read more about the new W-4 form and find additional resources for employers and employees on the IRS website: IRS.gov: About the New W-4 Form

Rob de Luca
Copy Director | BambooHR

Rob de Luca is the copy director for BambooHR. Since 2016, he has written extensively on culture and best practices in the HR industry. He believes culture is the key to organizational success and that every HR professional has the potential to become a culture champion and strategic business partner.