As previously noted in this space, two small but significant changes from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are coming in the next month. First, on December 23, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will increase the filing fees for certain benefit requests. Second, beginning on January 22, 2017, employers can only use the new version of the Form I-9 that is dated 11/14/2016 N. These changes come in an effort by USCIS to improve the services provided and streamline processes to reduce errors in reporting.
The adjusted fee schedule will be implemented following a comprehensive review of fees, where DHS, the cabinet agency that oversees USCIS, determined that the current fees do not cover the cost of services provided. This is the first time the fees have increased since November 23, 2010. Any application or petition filed on or after December 23, 2016 must include the new fees. Where an application or petition is filed after December 23, 2016 and has the incorrect filing fees, the filing will be returned for lack of proper fees. Please see our previous post for comprehensive charts showing the new fees after December 23, 2016 for the most common employment-based visa petitions and non-employment based visa petitions and applications.
The new Form I-9 allows filers to enter multiple preparers and translators and contains a dedicated area for including additional information. Previously, employers would have to annotate updates to a Form I-9 in the margins. Moreover, the instructions have been separated from the form, in line with other USCIS forms. The updated Form I-9 also makes it easier to complete on a computer, with enhancements including drop-down lists and calendars for filling in dates and on-screen instructions for each field. The Form I-9 requirements were established to prevent employers from hiring people, including US citizens, for employment in the United States without verifying their identity and employment authorization on Form I-9. More information on the Form I-9 can be found here.