Getting Your HR House in Order

Getting Your HR House in Order:
Employment Applications, Updated Form I-9, and Revised W-4

by Jean Seawright


Is your garden center ready for Spring hiring? Part of your preparation should include a review and possible update of your employment application, along with incorporation of two newly updated forms—the I-9 and W-4.

Employment Application. Because a growing number of states have recently adopted salary history bans and limitations on criminal history inquiries during the hiring process, now is the time to ensure your employment application is compliant. If you’re unsure of the latest hiring-related employment regulations for your location, contact Seawright & Associates for assistance. We can review your current application and provide recommendations to ensure compliance. This review is complimentary for Group Clients.

Also, if you previously purchased a customized Application for Employment from Seawright & Associates, you are eligible for a reduced rate, should the application need to be updated. If you have not previously purchased a customized Application for Employment from Seawright & Associates, now is the time! We are offering a special Spring season reduced rate of $125 for Group Clients, through March 31, 2020.

Updated Form I-9. Another item on your hiring preparation checklist should be the new Form I-9 (a.k.a. “I-9 form” or “I-9”). Last week the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released an updated version of the I-9 form. Employers must begin using the new version for all new hires by May 1, 2020, but can adopt it now.  CLICK HERE to download the updated printable and electronic versions of the I-9, along with the 15-page instruction manual. [Note: To download and use the electronic I-9 form, you must have a current version of Adobe or it will not work.]

This newest I-9 form has a revision date of 10/21/2019 in the lower left-hand corner and an expiration date of 10/31/2022 in the upper right hand corner. Current employees who completed a previous version of the I 9 should not complete the latest version. The only exception to this is for current employees whose employment authorization status has expired. In this case, employers must complete Section 3 of the newest version of the I-9 to reverify the employee’s employment authorization and must staple the new version with the completed Section 3 to the original I-9 form.

The USCIS did not make significant changes to the form; however, there are some clarifications that we recommend employers comply with:

1.    Use of “N/A” in Section 2 of the I-9: Employers using the paper version of the I-9 should not write “N/A” under Section 2 document list(s) not used. For example, if an employee presents an acceptable List A document, you should not enter document information or write ”N/A” in the List B and C columns. Likewise, if an employee submits one acceptable document from List B and one from List C, you should not enter document information or write “N/A” in the List A column.

Employers must, however, continue to write “N/A” under any fields that do not apply for the particular document list being used. For example, if an employee presents an acceptable List A document that does not have an expiration date, you must write “N/A” in the Expiration Date field under List A. Likewise, if the document does not have a document number, you must write “N/A” in the Document Number field under List A. Note that every document under every list has an issuing authority, so you should never write “N/A” in the Issuing Authority field.

When entering the title of the document under any of the lists, if you abbreviate it, you may use the USCIS-approved abbreviations in the I-9 instruction manual or any other common abbreviations for the title of the document. If you use the electronic version of the I-9, abbreviations for every document are in dropdown menus associated with the Document Title fields for Lists A, B, and C.

2.    List A and C Employment Authorization Documents: List A has and continues to include an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766), which carries an expiration date and bears a photograph of the individual. (List A, #4) This List A document is often referred to as an “EAD card.”

List C has and continues to include the option for employees to submit an “Employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security.” (List C, #7) An “employment authorization document” under List C does not include an EAD card (Form I-766). Rather, it includes documents such as Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record, an unexpired Reentry Permit (Form I-327), a Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560), a Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550), and others.

To clarify that an employment authorization document for List C cannot include an EAD card, the USCIS added a note to the table of List C documents in the instruction manual. Accordingly, employers should ensure that an EAD card is not listed or accepted as a List C document.

3.    Use of an Authorized Representative to Complete the I-9: Employers have and continue to be permitted to designate or contract with individuals to complete the I-9 on their behalf. This can include, but is not limited to, an employee located at the employer’s business or, for remote workers, a non-employee located in the city where the remote employee works. If an employer designates an authorized representative to complete the I-9, the employer continues to be liable for any violations in connection with the form or verification process. This includes, but is not limited to, violations of employer sanction laws committed by the person designated as the authorized representative of the employer.

In the I-9 instruction manual, the USCIS reiterated this enforcement practice and clarified that an authorized representative can be any person designated by the employer.

Most owners delegate completion of the I-9 to another individual in the business. This is an “authorized representative.” Assuming you follow this common practice, we recommend that you ensure he or she is fully informed and knowledgeable about the I-9 process, including the specific requirements for proper completion of the form.

4.    Country of Issuance and Issuing Authority Fields: On the electronic version of the I-9, the dropdown menu associated with the Country of Issuance field in Section 1 now includes additional countries for the employee to select from, and the Issuing Authority field (for a foreign passport) in Section 2 has revised names for two countries.

5.    Privacy Notice: As part of the updates to the I-9 form and instruction manual, the USCIS revised the Privacy Notice. Among the changes is a revision to disclosure language directed to employees. The new language notifies employees that “failure to provide the requested information, including their Social Security number (if applicable), and any requested evidence, may result in termination of employment.” Following this language, the USCIS reminds employers that failure to ensure proper completion of the form can result in civil or criminal penalties. The updated disclosure language is a reminder to employers of the importance of complying with regulations related to the I-9.

Requirements for completing the new I-9 form, retention rules, and penalties associated with failing to properly complete or retain the form remain unchanged. For compliance tips and information pertaining to these and other I-9-related topics, see the Seawright & Associates Immigration Client Advisory located in the CLIENTS-ONLY section of The Group websystem.

Updated Form W-4. Employers must being using a new version of the Form W-4 (“W-4”), Employee’s Withholding Certificate, for new employees first paid in 2020. The new version was redesigned to comply with tax code modifications in the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. According to the IRS, the new W-4 enhances transparency and provides simplicity and accuracy for employees, while minimizing the burden for employers. There are 5 steps to complete the form and 3 pages of detailed instructions. (So much for simplicity!)

Only newly hired employees as of January 1, 2020, must complete the revised W-4. Current employees are not required to complete a new W-4, but can adjust their withholding based on the new form. The IRS published a guidance document with instructions for determining federal withholding using the new W-4. You can obtain this document by CLICKING HERE. If you have questions about the new W-4, we recommend contacting your CPA or other IRS tax expert!

If you have any questions about the changes addressed above, let us know. We are here to assist Group Clients with all their HR needs!


Remember, as a Group Client, if you have questions on the hiring process or need help with any HR issues, Seawright & Associates is already on your team. Give them a call!

Jean Seawright
Seawright & Associates
100 E. Ventris Avenue
Maitland, Florida 32751
P: 407.645.2433, ext. 14
[email protected]


REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Jean Seawright, Robert Hendrickson, Steve Bailey, Tim Quebedeaux, Sid Raisch, and John Kennedy are included in your retainer!

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