Form I-9 is also called Employment Eligibility Verification. It is a form from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The purpose of Form I-9 is to verify the identity of and confirm that an individual is eligible to be hired for employment in the United States.
Form I-9 was created in light of the Immigration Reform and Control Act which was enacted in 1986 as a way to curb undocumented immigration.
Is Form I-9 only for U.S. citizens?
No. Form I-9 is required for all new employees in the U.S., citizens and non-citizens alike. It is required for each new employee who is hired after November 6, 1986.
Who is required to complete Form I-9?
It is the responsibility of all employers in the United States to complete Form I-9 to verify an employee’s identity and to find out if they can legally work in the U.S. It is required by law. Both the employer and employee must complete Form I-9.
Along with attesting their eligibility to work on Form I-9, each new employee must additionally present their employer qualified documents that can establish their identity and will show that they are eligible to work in the U.S. As of 2020, there are 25 documents that are recognized and accepted as proof of identity and employment eligibility.
The employer must inspect the submitted documents and decide if they appear genuine, real, and if they relate to the employee who is presenting the documents. The employer records the document information on Form I-9.
Finally, the employer must safely keep all Form I-9s of employees. They must be ready to present these in case of an inspection by authorized government representatives.
When can an employer complete Form I-9?
Employers can only complete Form I-9 only after they have extended a job offer. This is to prevent employers from possibly basing their hiring decision on a candidate’s immigration status. Using Form I-9 as a requirement during the selection process is discriminatory and illegal.
What are some examples of acceptable documents for verifying identity and employment eligibility?
A new employee can present one or a combination of documents to their employer as proof of identity and employment eligibility in the United States.
There are three lists of qualified documents that an individual can present:
List A – shows both identity and employment authorization
List B – shows identity
List C – shows employment authorization
An employee can submit either:
1 List A document OR
1 List B Document and 1 List C Document (both should be unexpired)
Here are some examples of documents belonging to each list:
List A (Shows both identity and employment authorization)
U.S. passport or U.S. passport card
Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551)
Foreign passport with Form I-94 or Form I-94A with Arrival-Departure Record, and containing an endorsement to work
Passport from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) or the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) with Form I-94 or Form I-94A
Foreign passport containing a Form I-551 stamp or Form I-551 printed notation
List B (shows identity)
ID card issued by federal, state, or local government agencies or entities with photograph and name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address
School ID card with photograph
U.S. military card or draft record
Military dependent’s ID card
Native American tribal document
U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document (MMD) card
Driver’s license issued by a Canadian government authority
For individuals under 18 years old who do not have the documents listed above, they can present any of the following:
School record or report card
Clinic, doctor, or hospital record
Daycare or nursery school record
List C (shows employment authorization)
U.S. Social Security account number card (unrestricted and must not contain the following restrictive wording):
Not Valid For Employment
Valid for Work Only With INS Authorization
Valid for Work Only With DHS Authorization
Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240)
Certification of Birth Abroad issued by the U.S. Department of State (Form FS-545)
Certification of Report of Birth issued by the U.S. Department of State (Form DS-1350)
Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a state, county, municipal authority, or outlying territory of the United States bearing an official seal
Native American tribal document
U.S. Citizen ID Card (Form I-197)
Identification Card for Use of Resident Citizen in the United States (Form I-179)
Employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
An employee can also present a receipt but must present the actual document when the receipt validity ends or when they receive the document itself, whichever will come first.
When should an employee present the above mentioned documents to their employer?
The documents that show identity and work eligibility must be presented to the employer within three business days of the first day of paid work. For example, if the person’s first day of work for pay begins on Monday, the documents must be presented to the employer not later than Thursday of the same week.
If the employee is hired to work for less than three business days, they must be able to present the documents on the first day of employment.
Is there a fee to complete Form I-9?
No, there is no fee for completing Form I-9.
Is Form I-9 supposed to be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)?
No, Form I-9 is not filed with the USCIS. It is not filed with any government agency. Once the form is completed, it is kept by the employer for safekeeping. The employer retains the Form I-9 of all their employees and these must be available if there is an inspection by U.S. government officials.
What will happen if an employer does not comply with completing Form I-9?
Employers who do not comply with Form I-9 completion and who deliberately and knowingly hire individuals with no work eligibility will face penalties. Depending on the nature of the violation, the fines can be anywhere in the range of $573 to $20,130 per employee. Penalties for failing to produce a Form I-9 can range from $230 to $2,292 per violation.
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