What Is an I9 Form

What Is an I9 Form

Form I9 is mandated by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and used for two reasons. Its purpose is to verify the identity of employees and prove employment authorization to work in the U.S.

Thus, I9 is:

  • The official Employment Eligibility Verification form
  • The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services form
  • Who Needs To Complete Form I9?
  • Both U.S. employers and employees must complete Form I9.

Employers:

Must review and complete the form for each person they hire in the U.S. 

(This includes citizens and noncitizens). Employers must determine whether they are real, and detail the information on Form I9.

Employees:

Must prove their employment authorization on the form.

Employees must show their employer acceptable documents that prove:

  • Their identity
  • Employment authorization
  • Form I9 Verification Requirements
  • Should employers keep I9 forms? Employers must keep I9 forms for either:

Three years after the first day of work.

One year after the date employment ends. 

It depends on whichever is later.

Employers must store these forms away from other personnel files. All Form I9s must be available for inspection by allowed government officers.

Employers who do not follow the I9 rules can receive severe penalties.

Where Can Employers Learn About I9 Compliance and Instruction?

Employers should use the USCIS Handbook, M-274. (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Handbook).

Employers should use the Handbook to learn and understand various I9 verification obligations. It offers employers clarification and guidance on several I-9 verification procedures.

The book provides details about things like:

  • F-1 foreign students changing their status to H-1B
  • Foreign workers with an automatic extension of a USCIS Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

It also explains how an individual can serve as an allowed representative. i.e., the person(s) who can complete Form I-9 for the employer.

Employers must use the most recent USCIS Handbook, which came out in May 2020. The Handbook has a Spanish version to guide employers and recruiters.

Prerequisites for Employees

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After completing Form I-9, employees must prove, under penalty of perjury, that they are:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • A non-US citizen national
  • A lawful permanent resident

An alien allowed to work in the U.S., or an Admission Number (if applicable). It must show the date employment authorization expires).

Instructions for Completing Form I-9 For Employers And Employees

Form I-9: Section 1 - Employee Information

When an individual accepts an offer of employment, they must complete Section 1 of Form I9.

The employee needs to list the following on the form:

  • Full name
  • Middle initial
  • Maiden name
  • Existing address
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth
  • Signature and date to certify the information as true

Employees do not have to give their Social Security Number (SSN), with one exception. If the employer uses E-Verify for Form I9, workers must provide their SSN.

Form I-9: Section 1—Employer Information

All United States employers must review Form I9 to check that all fields are complete. Employers who do not follow I9 requirements may receive penalties under federal law. 

If employers find errors in Section 1, employees must correct, initial, and date them.

Form I-9: Section 2 – Employer Review of Employee Identity and Employment Authorization Documents

Employers must fill Section 2 three business days before the employee's first day of employment.

Employees must provide employers with original documentation that shows identity and employment authorization. Employers must physically look at the document information provided.

Employees choose which documentation to present to the employer. Employers cannot specify the documents employees use for verification. If an employer tries this, they are subject to allegations of unlawful discrimination.

Employers enter the following in Section 2 from the original employee documents:

  • Document title
  • Issuing authority
  • Number
  • Expiration date 

Employers must put the date employment begins and information into the certification block. Once this is complete, the employer must sign and date the form.

The person inspecting the documents is the same person who attests and signs Section 2.

What Documentation Can Employees Use For Proof of Identity and Work Authorization?

A list of acceptable documents is below. Check under List A, List B, and List C.

List A - Employees can use the following to prove their identity and work eligibility:

  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • Form I-551
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Alien Registration Receipt Card
  • Temporary I-551 printed notation on a machine-readable immigrant visa
  • Military dependent’s ID card
  • Form I-766
  • Driver’s license issued by a Canadian government authority
  • Foreign passport with a temporary I-551 stamp
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

Nonimmigrant aliens allowed U.S. employment, based on their nonimmigrant status, must present:

  • Foreign passport with Form I-94 bearing the same name as the passport 
  • Endorsement of their nonimmigrant status
  • Passport from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) or the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). (It must come with Form I-94, which shows nonimmigrant admission under the Compact of Free Association between the U.S. and the FSM or RMI.)

List B - Identity documents

In the absence of the above, an employee would have to present two other papers, which include the following documents

Driver's license

An identification card issued by a state

ID cards issued by federal, state, local government agencies, or entities

School ID card

Voter's registration card

U.S. Military card or draft record

Native American tribal document

The documentation must contain a photograph or the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Height
  • Eye color
  • Address

List C - Work authorization documents

If employees do not have papers on either list, they must give two separate documents. One to prove their identity, and another to show work authorization.

U.S. Social Security Card issued by the Social Security Administration

Report of Birth issued by the U.S. Department of State (Forms DS-1350, FS-545, FS-240)

The original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a state, county, municipal authority, or outlying possession of the United States bearing an official seal

Nativ American tribal document

U.S. Citizen ID Card

ID Card for Use of Resident Citizen in the United States

Unexpired employment authorization document that the Department of Homeland Security issued. It does not include Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document, from List A.

Employees who are minors can present these documents:

  • Report cards
  • School records
  • Day-care or nursery school record
  • What Are The Different Types of I-9 Penalties?
  • The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents or auditors inspect Form I9. If they find violations, employers have ten business days to correct them.

Employers receive fines for the following violations:

  • All substantive and uncorrected technical violations
  • Employers who knowingly hire or continue to employ unauthorized workers

Employers who do not complete Form I9 may receive the following penalties:

  • Large monetary fines
  • Criminal prosecution
  • Debarment by ICE

Conclusion

Employers and employees can visit the government website to learn more about Form I9.

About the Author

Austin Andrukaitis

Austin Andrukaitis is the CEO of ChamberofCommerce.com. He's an experienced digital marketing strategist with more than 15 years of experience in creating successful online campaigns. Austin's approach to developing, optimizing, and delivering web-based technologies has help businesses achieve higher profit, enhance productivity, and position organizations for accelerated sustained growth.

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