First required by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, the I-9 Form verifies the eligibility of an employee to work legally in the United States. Employers are required to verify this employment eligibility for every employee hired. Employers who fail to obtain the appropriate documentation from new employees can be fined penalties in an amount of not less than $110 and not more than $1,100 for each violation per I-9 employment verification form they failed to fill out and maintain.
It is against the law for any employer to knowingly hire employees who are not authorized to work in the United States. As part of the employment eligibility verification process, on the first day of employment, employees must provide proof that they are U.S. citizens or nationals, lawful permanent residents, or people otherwise authorized to be employed in the United States.
Within three days of hire, every new employee must show their employer documentation that establishes both proof of their identity and proof of their eligibility to work in the United States.
The I-9 Form must be completed for every new employee, regardless of their national origin or whether or not the employee is a U.S. citizen. Under IRCA, if an employer fails to verify the identity and employment authorization of a new employee, by completing the I-9 Form, the employer has violated federal immigration law.
Documents That Establish Identity and Employment Eligibility
These documents establish both identity and eligibility to work in the United States.
Acceptable Documents: List A - Documents that Establish Both Identity and Employment Eligibility
- U.S. Passport (unexpired or expired.
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561).
- Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570).
- Unexpired foreign passport, with an attached Form I-94 indicating unexpired employment authorization.
- Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card with photograph (Form I-551).
- Unexpired Temporary Resident Card (Form I-688).
- Unexpired Employment Authorization Card(Form I-688A).
- Unexpired Reentry Permit (Form I-327).
- Unexpired Refugee Travel Document (Form 1-571).
- Unexpired Employment Authorization Document issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that contains a photograph (Form I-688B).
Documents that Establish Identity - List B
Or, an employee needs to present both proof of identity (List B) and proof of employment eligibility (List C). These documents establish an employee's identity. List C establishes an employee's eligibility to work in the United States.
- Driver's license or ID card issued by a state or outlying possession of the United States provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address.
- ID card issued by federal, state or local government agencies or entities, provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address.
- School ID card with a photograph.
- Voter's registration card.
- U.S. Military card or draft record.
- Military dependent's ID card.
- U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card.
- Native American tribal document.
- Driver's license issued by a Canadian government authority.
- For persons under age 18 who are unable to present a document listed above, collect:
- School record or report card.
- Clinic, doctor or hospital record.
- Day-care or nursery school record.
Documents that Establish Employment Eligibility
One of these documents must be presented in addition to the document presented from List B.
Documents that Establish Employment Eligibility - List C
- U.S. social security card issued by the Social Security Administration (other than a card stating it is not valid for employment).
- Certification of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545 or Form DS-1350)
- 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.
- Native American tribal document.
- U.S. Citizen ID Card (Form I-197)
- ID Card for use of a Resident Citizen in the United States (Form I-179).
- Unexpired employment authorization document issued by DHS (other than those listed under List A).
Additional Form I-9 Employer Responsibilities
- Make sure your I-9 Forms are filled out correctly. Follow the directions exactly.
- Employers must keep each employee I-9 Form on file for at least three years, or for one year after employment ends, whichever is longer.
- Keep and make copies of the original documents supplied by your employees - not required, but advised. Keep only the minimum number of documents required and store the I-9 forms and document photocopies separate from your employee files.
- If changes are made to the I-9 document, change them on the original form and initial and date the changes. Don't fill out a new form.
- Re-verify expiring work authorizations and do not allow the employee to work if their documentation has expired.
- Be sure to respond according to timing instructions and guidelines if you receive a Social Security Administration no-match letter that indicates a certain number of your employees have unverifiable Social Security Numbers.
Obtain current I-9 Form information at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
This sample policy is provided for guidance only. The provided information, whether policies, procedures, samples, examples, or guidelines, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. While I make every effort to provide and link accurate, legal, and complete information, I cannot guarantee it is correct for my worldwide audience. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct.