What is the purpose of the I9 form?
The I9 verifies that an employee is legally eligible to work in the United States. The intent
of the I9 is to establish 1) identity and 2) eligibility to work in the United States.
Employers may NOT hire employees that are not eligible to work in the United States.
Employers must complete an I9 for all employees upon hire.
When do I complete it?
- You may NOT complete the I9 as part of pre-employment screening. It is completed after an employee has been offered a job.
- Section 1 must be completed by the end of the first day of work.
- The remainder of the form must be completed by the close of business on the 3rd day of work.
- If an employee fails to produce the required documents you should terminate their employment immediately.
What if my employee is remote?
- Documents must be verified in PERSON. You can appointment someone as your representative to complete it. Some employers will use a Notary to do this. You can use a notary since they will likely pay close attention of the requirements. However, they would not notarize the I9 (as that would be notarizing their own work). They would simply verify and complete the document as your representative. The same person who verifies the provided documents must also complete the employer sections of the I9 form.
Where can I get more information on tricky situations or unusual documents?
- The Handbook for Employers put out by US Immigration Services is very helpful
for unique situations. It’s long, but searchable (copy and paste into your browser):
How do I correct an error on an I9?
- Draw a line through the incorrect information. Write the correct information on the same form and initial and date it.
- Forms should never be backdated. If several errors are made a new form may be completed but it must be attached to the original. If necessary, attach a memo with the reason for the correction(s).
How do I store I9’s? What are the retention requirement?
- They should NOT be stored in the employees personnel file.
- You may keep copies of the support documents provided, but you are not required to do so. Follow the same procedure for all new hires.
- You must retain original I-9 forms for three years after the date of hire, or one year after the date employment ends, whichever is later.
Which is the current version of the I9?
- The one that has 11/14/16 on the bottom left corner.
Understanding acceptable documents
- You may NOT specify which type of documents an employee must provide.
- An employee may provide any single document from list A document OR one document from list B AND list C.
- Original documents must be provided. A certified copy of birth certificate is the only exception.
- If an employee presents you with a document on the list, and it appears to be valid, you may accept it. You are not required to be a document expert.
- Some employees will provide work authorization dates with an expiration date on them. You must reverify their work eligibility when their authorization expires in section 3 of the form.
- Employees responsible for completing I9’s should be trained.
- I9 compliance audits are expected to increase under the current administration.
- Avoid illegal discrimination of employees during the I9 process by treating individuals equally when recruiting and hiring, and when verifying employment authorization and identity.
- There are many additional nuances to the I9 process. If in doubt, refer to the employers guide listed above or www.uscis.gov.
- There is civil and criminal liability associated with the completion of I9’s. Fines can
- Some employers (such as government contractors) are required to use Everify
alongside with paper I9 forms.