An Employer’s Handbook to completing Form I-9

All U.S. employers are responsible for completion and retention of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens. On the form, the employer must verify the employment eligibility and identity documents presented by the employee and record the document information on the Form I-9. Acceptable documents are listed on the back of the form, and detailed below under “Special Instructions.”  Failure to complete the Form I-9 could result in fines & other penalties.

Click here to view the Employer’s Handbook to completing the Form I-9.  

The employer should not file Form I-9 with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or USCIS. Form I-9 must be kept by the employer either for three years after the date of hire or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later. The form must be available for inspection by the authorized U.S. Government officials (e.g., ICE, Department of Labor).

Click here for fillable Form I-9.

Please note the following changes to the Form I-9 process:

  • Form I-766 (Employment Authorization Document), although not listed on the 5/31/05 version of the Form I-9, is an acceptable List A document #10.
  • Form I-151 is no longer an acceptable List A document #5. However, Form I-551 remains an acceptable List A document #5.
  • The following documents have been removed from the list of acceptable identity and work authorization documents: Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (List A #2), Certificate of Naturalization (List A #3), Unexpired Reentry Permit (List A #8) and Unexpired Refugee Travel Document (List A #9).

Frequently Asked Questions

Do citizens and nationals of the U. S. need to prove to their employers that they are eligible to work?

Yes. While citizens and nationals of the U.S. are automatically eligible for employment, they too must present proof of employment eligibility and identity and complete an Employment Eligibility Verification form (Form I-9). Citizens of the U.S. include persons born in Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Nationals of the U.S. include persons born in American Samoa, including Swains Island.

Do I need to complete a Form I-9 for everyone who applies for a job with my company?
No. You need to complete Form I-9 only for people you actually hire. For purposes of the I-9 rules, a person is “hired” when he or she begins to work for you for wages or other compensation.

I understand that I must complete a Form I-9 for anyone I hire to perform labor or services in return for wages or other remuneration. What is “remuneration”?
Remuneration is anything of value given in exchange for labor or services rendered by an employee, including food and lodging.

Can I fire an employee who fails to produce the required document(s) within three (3) business days?
Yes. You can terminate an employee who fails to produce the required document(s), or a receipt for a replacement document(s) (in the case of lost, stolen or destroyed documents), within three (3) business days of the date employment begins. However, you must apply these practices uniformly to all employees. If an employee has presented a receipt for a replacement document(s), he or she must produce the actual document(s) within 90 days of the date employment begins.

What happens if I properly complete a Form I-9 and the ICE discovers that my employee is not actually authorized to work?
You cannot be charged with a verification violation; however, you cannot knowingly continue to employ this individual. You will have a good faith defense against the imposition of employer sanctions penalties for knowingly hiring an unauthorized alien unless the government can prove you had actual knowledge of the unauthorized status of the employee.

What is my responsibility concerning the authenticity of document(s) presented to me?
You must examine the document(s) and, if they reasonably appear on their face to be genuine and to relate to the person presenting them, you must accept them. To do otherwise could be an unfair immigration-related employment practice. If a document does not reasonably appear on its face to be genuine and to relate to the person presenting it, you must not accept it. You may contact your local ICE office for assistance. To get the address and telephone number of the ICE office nearest you, please click the ICE district office directory.

May I accept a photocopy of a document presented by an employee?
No. Employees must present original documents. The only exception is an employee may present a certified copy of a birth certificate.

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