On January 31, 2020, the United States Citizens and Immigration Services (USCIS) released an updated version of the Employment Eligibility Verification, I-9 Form. Minor changes were made to both the instructional pages and the form itself. In this article, you will get answers to some of the most common questions that employers have about the I-9 form, including:
What is an I-9 form?
What are the I-9 form requirements?
Who is required to fill out an I-9 form?
How do I send an I-9 form to my employee?
What documents do I need to verify employment eligibility?
What is E-Verify, and how do I do an E-Verify check?
How do I verify employment eligibility?
How do I verify employment eligibility documents for a remote employee?
How can I prevent discrimination during the employment verification process?
What are my ongoing responsibilities for ensuring I-9 compliance?
Form I-9 Compliance FAQs
The I-9 form is used by employers to “verify the identity and employment authorization” of employees in the United States. Workers are required to enter information about their identity and submit documentation that proves and supports their employment eligibility. The employee must complete section one of the form, while the employer must fill out sections two and three. Click here to review the latest updates made to the form, approved on October 21, 2019.
The I-9 form must be filled out by both employees and employers after the hiring process has been completed. Requirements for employees and employers are as follows:
Employers and employees may use the 07/17/17 N or the 10/21/2019 editions of the I-9 form until April 30, 2020. However, on or after May 1, the new 10/21/19 version must be used. The edition date is printed at the bottom of the form.
Only employers and employees in Puerto Rico are permitted to complete the Spanish version of the I-9 form. Individuals from all other 50 states and U.S. territories must submit the English version of the form.
The I-9 is only required for new employees, rehires, or those requiring re-verification. Existing employees who have completed valid I-9s are not required to resubmit the form simply due to the recent revisions.
Only those classified as employees are required to complete an I-9 form. It is easier to understand who is required to complete the I-9 form by outlining who is exempt. The following individuals are not required to complete an I-9:
Employees hired on or before November 6, 1986, are not required to complete the form. Employees based in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) are not required to complete the form if they were hired on or before November 27, 2009.
There are three common methods for requesting an I-9 from an employee:
GoCo recently introduced a free tool for sending I-9 forms to employees and collecting digital signatures online. The service includes compliance tools for verifying that forms are filled out correctly.
Provide a printed, paper copy for the employee to sign. The new I-9 forms are available for download via the USCIS website.
If you have an e-signature solution in place, you can upload and send I-9 forms for a fee.
Employees must submit documents that prove their identity and authorization to work in the United States. Depending on their eligibility, employees may submit one document from List A or a combination of documents from Lists B and C.
Employees must present valid, original, and unexpired documents to employers. If an employee does not yet have the original copy of a newly ordered document, he or she may present an official receipt instead. Visit the USCIS website for more details on acceptable receipts.
The E-Verify system helps employers confirm the employment status of an employee by matching the information provided against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) records. For most employers, it is voluntary. However, certain employers are required to use it, such as federal contractors, those in states that mandate it, and those who have been ordered in a legal ruling to do so. Once an E-Verify account has been opened, employers must use the system for all new employees.
Note: Employers must retain copies of any documents that require photo matching, such as a passport or driver’s license.
Employers are required to verify the submitted documents by determining whether they “reasonably appear to be genuine.” If a document does not appear to be valid, an employer can reject it and ask for valid alternatives.
Employers can reverify an employee’s status by completing section three on the form. This section must be completed if the employment authorization or employment authorization documents have expired. Employers may—but are not required to—complete section three if the employee has been rehired within three years of the first I-9 being completed or legally changed his or her name during this time. Visit the USCIS website for more details on reverification.
Employers may request an authorized individual, such as a “personnel officer, foreman, agent, or notary public” to complete section two or three on behalf of the company. No official documentation is needed to allocate an authorized person. However, the employer is liable for any errors or illegal actions taken by the authorized individual during the verification process. In all cases, the individual reviewing the employee’s employment verification documents must do so in person and be the same individual who completes the form.
In California, the authorized representative must be certified and bonded as an immigration consultant to verify I-9 documents. This also applies to notary publics.
The Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee during the hiring, firing, or verification process based on citizenship, immigration status, or nation of origin. In compliance with the law, employers cannot:
If an employee experiences discrimination, he or she can file a claim with the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER). Employers cannot retaliate if an employee files a charge, participates in an investigation, or attests to his or her rights. Visit the USCIS website for more details on the laws surrounding employment discrimination.
Employers must comply with the rules outlined by the USCIS when retaining, storing, and updating I-9 forms. The following responsibilities must be met by employers:
Employers who fail to maintain valid I-9 forms or illegally discriminate against new hires may be subject to fines, debarment, court orders, and criminal penalties.
Still need to clarify a few points? Here are some frequently asked questions about the I-9 form:
No. All documents must be original, except for certified copies of birth certificates and authorized receipts.
Not directly; however, the law states that no employer shall “hire, recruit for a fee, or refer for a fee unauthorized aliens they know to be unauthorized to work in the U.S.” Therefore, it is advisable to be diligent when hiring both employees and independent contractors and ensure all parties connected with your business are eligible to work within the United States.
No. A new I-9 is only required if you hire or need to reverify an employee.
Yes. An I-9 form must be completed for all employees, regardless of employment length.
Yes, you can fire an employee within three days of the start of employment if he or she does not submit the correct paperwork.
The USCIS website has a full list of FAQs for employees and employers completing the I-9 form.