The U.S. government demands the Employment Eligibility Verification form, often known as Form I-9, from every employee. I-9 information and the necessary supporting documents prove two things:
- Workers are exactly who they say they are.
- In the United States, workers are allowed to work.
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Three sections make up the I-9: one is for the employee, and the other two are for the employer. The first section must be filled out and signed by each new employee at the conclusion of their first day on the job. The second section must be finished and signed by the employer by the third day of work for each new employee.
What is the Purpose of the I-9 Form?
There are two main uses for the Form I-9. It verifies each employee’s identification and eligibility in the US. According to US law, employers must complete I-9 forms for each employee. Both U.S. citizens and noncitizens are subject to this.
Who Needs the I-9 Form?
You must complete and maintain I-9s for each employee if you have any. You will still need to fill out an I-9 even if you are your only employee. Independent contractors are not required to submit I-9 documents. It’s possible that you don’t have the information or documentation required to finish an I-9 for a new employee. To get around the Form I-9 standards, you should avoid reclassifying the person as an independent contractor. The government may ban you from doing business in the United States, and there are stiff penalties for doing so.
How to Complete an I-9 Form in Steps?
Form I-9 is simple and has three sections. Section 1 is filled out by employees, and Section 2 is completed by employers. Employers only make use of Section 3 in exceptional situations.
Section 1: Employee Section
Information about the employee is attested to in Section 1. Employees give basic identification information in Section 1, including their
- Born on date
- The number for Social Security
- Email address (optional)
- Telephone number (optional)
- Citizenship status
Section 1 of the Form I-9 is where citizenship status generates the most uncertainty. Employees are asked to check one of four citizenship options on the form. Under pain of perjury, they must attest that they are
- Citizen of the United States
- A national of the United States who is not a citizen
- An alien permitted to work
- A lawful permanent resident
Employees born in American Samoa, some former residents of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and some children of noncitizen nationals born abroad are examples of noncitizen nationals of the United States.
A non-citizen who resides in the United States legally and continuously is known as a lawful permanent resident. The majority of lawful permanent residents have visas that prove their status. For the purposes of the I-9, refugees and asylees are not regarded to be lawful permanent residents. Include your seven to nine-digit USCIS number or Alien Registration Number if you are a lawful permanent resident.
Aliens who are authorized to work in the United States do not fall within the first three categories. If this option is used, the user must specify in the provided when their employment authorization expires. The employee should input N/A if the employment authorization documentation does not provide an expiration date.
This category includes people with special needs such as asylees, refugees, Temporary Protected Status holders, and others. Aliens who are authorized to work should support their choice with one of the following three document numbers:
- Form I-94 Admission Number
- Alien Registration Number, and USCIS Number
- The country of issuance and the foreign passport number
The employee can sign and date the I-9 after completing Section 1. By the conclusion of their first day of work, new hires should have finished this part. English and Spanish versions of the Form I-9 are available. They can ask a friend, relative, or translator to help them in creating Section 1 if necessary.
Section 2: Employer Review
Employer review and verification are done in section 2. By the third business day following the employee’s first day of work, employers must finish Section 2. Three subsections make up Section 2. Employers copy the name and citizenship or immigration status of the employee from Section 1 into the first subsection.
I-9 Form Documentation Requirements
Employers review employee documentation that serves as identification and employment authorization proof in the second subsection. List A, List B, and List C are all part of the subsection. Either one document from List A or one document from each Lists B and C must be provided by employees.
List A documents that are acceptable include:
- A U.S. passport or passport card
- A permanent resident card or receipt for alien registration (Form I-551 or green card)
- An image on a document proving your employment authorization (Form I-766)
- A foreign passport and an unused Form I-94 or I-94A for nonimmigrants with a work authorization from a specific employer
- A Federated States of Micronesia passport with Form I-94 or I-94A
- A passport from foreign showing proof of being a permanent resident status
An employee’s identity is established through List B documentation. Documents on List B that are acceptable include:
- A driver’s license or identification card with a photograph and personal data (e.g., name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, address)
- A registration card for voters
- an American military ID or draft record
- A photo ID from the school
- Military dependent’s identification card
- A Merchant Mariner card from the U.S. Coast Guard
- A tribal Native American document
- A license to drive issued by the Canadian government
Employees under the age of 18 who are unable to submit the above mentioned documents may instead provide:
- A report card or school record
- A hospital, doctor’s, or clinic record
- A record from a daycare or nursery school
The establishment of List C documentation confirms an employee’s authorization to work in the United States. Documents on List C that are acceptable include:
- An unendorsed Social Security card that restricts employment permission
- A birth abroad certificate from the U.S. Department of State (Form FS-545)
- A birth report from the U.S. Department of State (Form DS-1350)
- A birth certificate with the state’s, county’s, municipality’s, or U.S. territory’s official seal.
- A tribe Native American document
- An ID card for Americans (Form I-197)
- A Resident Citizenship ID (Form I-179)
- An employment permit issued by the Department of Homeland Security of the United States
Employers are not allowed to accept photocopies of List A, B, or C documents. The rules of Section 2 only apply to the original copies.
An authorized representative of your business should complete the certification subsection after you will complete Section 2’s first two subsections. In the certification paragraph, your representative must include their name, position title, signature, and business contact information. Also, the representative is required to look over the supplied documents to ensure that it relates to the employee named and that it is authorized. To the best of their knowledge, the representative must finally confirm that the employee has a valid work authorization for the United States.
It could seem intimidating to read the certification subsection. To comply with this section, however, you do not need to be an immigration law expert or attorney. You meet the certification requirement if you make a good-faith attempt to finish this section and honestly review the provided document.
Section 3: Re-Verification and Re-Hires
Re-verification and rehires are covered in Section 3. For most new hires, you are not required to complete this portion. Below are the conditions under which you may finish Section 3:
- When an employee’s employment authorization expires.
- When you rehire a terminated worker whose original employment authorization documents have run out of time.
- Whenever an employee’s name changes
You should review Section 3 papers using the same good-faith standard that you did for Section 2 documents.
You are now capable of completing I-9s, but be careful. You risk severe fines from the federal government if you incorrectly complete them or ignore them entirely. Form I-9 problems are typically discovered by the government during an I-9 audit. I-9 audits are one of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) routine duties. ICE might get a tip that asks them to look into an employer’s I-9s. But more frequently, ICE performs I-9 audits with no reason for believing that any violations will be found.
Unfortunately, ICE has considerable authority to impose penalties for both big and small I-9 infractions. For I-9 infractions, ICE may impose both criminal and civil fines. These fines are often divided into two groups: knowing violations and technical violations.
A knowing violation occurs when an employer knowingly employs people who are unauthorized to work in the United States. Incorrectly completing I-9 forms is a technical violation. If ICE finds consistent errors in your I-9 process, technical violations can collect and result in considerably harsher penalties from ICE. Being aware that fines for violations can range from $573 to $20,130 The cost of each technical violation might range from $230 to $2,292.
The key phrase in these penalties is per violation. Penalties go up whether it is a technical violation or a knowing violation. The penalties might escalate if your company grows and you have uncorrected I-9 issues. Even though these penalties can be high, following basic best practices will help you maintain I-9 compliance.
I-9 Best Practices
If ICE audits your business, following some basic I-9 best practices can help to protect you. If you have made unintentional mistakes, simply showing that you follow to an I-9 policy can reduce your overall penalty.
Best I-9 Practices Consist of:
- Making copies of all employee documentation and keeping all I-9 forms for each employee.
- I-9s and document copies must be kept for at least three years following the hire date or one year following the termination date of the employee.
- I-9s and I-9 documentation should be kept apart from personnel files so you can easily access them in case of an ICE audit.
- Being ready to produce with ICE requests within 72 hours and produce all I-9 and I-9 documents.
- Conducting an internal I-9 audit every year to identify any I-9 documents that need to be updated, discarded or both. I-9s and supporting documents don’t need to be kept any longer than necessary.
Complying with I-9 Requirements
All potential job applicants should confirm their eligibility to work in the US. The most basic requirement for any employee working in the United States is employment permission. Your evidence that your employees adhere to this statement is Form I-9.
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Frequently Asked Questions (Faqs)
When should I Complete Form I-9?
Every time you hire a person to do work or provide services in the United States in exchange for pay or another kind of payment, you must fill out Form I-9. Anything of value, such as food and accommodation that is exchanged for labor or services is known as remuneration.
Who is not Required to Submit Form I-9?
Also, Unless they are an employee of a company or partnership, a self-employed person is not required to complete an I-9 on their own behalf. Unless they receive something of value from the employer in exchange for their labor and services, interns do not fill out an I-9 form.
What is the 3-day Rule for I-9?
Within 3 business days of the employee’s hire date, employers must complete and sign Section 2 of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification (the hire date means the first day of work for pay)
Who Needs to Fill out I-9?
Every person a U.S. employer hires for employment in the nation must have a Form I-9 that is entirely filled out. Both citizens and noncitizens fall under this. The form must be filled out by both employers (or authorized representatives of the employer) and employees.
What Happens If you don’t Verify an I-9?
A fine could be imposed if the I-9 verification and document retention requirements are not met. As of late, the lowest fine for a first violation is $252 for each I-9, while the maximum fine is $2,507 per I-9.