I-9 Form: What Is It and Why Is It important?

The I-9 form is popularly known as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document that is widely used for verifying the identity of individuals who are hired for employment in the United States.

Workers provide and submit identification documents such as a Social Security card and a driver’s license or passport in order to authenticate and verify the status and identity of candidates. The employer then verifies these documents and confirms the employee’s work eligibility, completing and signing the form. Federal law has a requirement of a completed I-9 form for all employees.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has recently maximized and optimized the frequency and intensity of its Form I-9 audits. Employers must have to be sure that they are ready to obey and comply with instructions and regulations for Form I-9, also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification form.

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What Does Form I-9 Do?

Form I-9 is used to verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the US and employers are responsible for three steps in completing it:

Inform every employee to provide and submit identification to complete the I-9 form

In addition, must verify that the employee submit valid proof of eligibility and required documents on the form

Keep a copy of the completed and signed I-9 form in their files

The signed I-9 form is to be stored in the business office in case the employer is audited or a government agent from the Department of Labour (DOL), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or Immigration requests to see a copy. It should not be kept in an employee’s personnel file, due to confidential information that is on it. The complete handbook for the I-9 form, called I-9 Handbook for Employers M-274, is available from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

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Form I-9 has a requirement of employers to be verified that each employee hired after Nov. 6, 1986, is eligible and legally authorized to work in the U.S., according to the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The form also demands identification for all employees. This requirement applies to both U.S. citizens and non-citizens.

Where To Find I-9 Form?

The most updated I-9 form can be found on the DHS US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. The form itself is of three pages, and the instructions are an additional 15 pages. Form along with its instructions are available in both languages English and Spanish (however, only employees in Puerto Rico may complete the Spanish version of the form). If you desire to get electronic form then you can download it from the mentioned sources.

Documents Required For Form I-9 Verification

For US citizens, the most common documents used to demonstrate eligibility are a US passport, a Social Security card, and a driver’s license. If you have a passport then there no requirement of additional or extra documents. For those who don’t have the US passport then a government-issued document, school, military, or tribal ID will often suffice along with a birth certificate or Social Security card.

To simplify I-9 verification, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides a list of documents directly on the form. These are given as follows

(i) If an employee does not have a US passport, he/she must provide two forms of work authorization – a driver’s license and a Social Security card are the most common ones.

(ii) Non-US citizens may need to provide an employment authorization or resident ID card, as they are not likely to have a valid Social Security card or US birth certificate.

These are valid IDs that workers can use to verify their employment eligibility.

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Who Needs Form I-9?

US employers require to have each new hire complete an I-9 form. The completed form, verified and signed, is kept on file for up to three years for any employee currently employed, and up to one year for terminated employees. These documents may need to be shown to immigration officials or other government employees who may check to make sure your business is only hiring documented workers eligible to work in the US.

  • US citizens
  • Lawful permanent residents/immigrants
  • Individuals with work authorization
  • Non-citizen nationals

You do not need to request or complete I-9 documents for contractors, temporary workers hired through an agency, domestic workers who work intermittently, or employees you hire who live and work outside the US.

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How To Fill Out Form I-9?

There are three sections on Form I-9. Section 1 asks for the employee to complete with his/her personal information as soon as he/she is hired. According to Form I-9, the employer is responsible for filling out Section 2 and dating it within three business days of hiring the employee.

In addition, the Human Resources (HR) department ensures that an employee provides his/her new employer with accurate documentation, which serves as proof of identity and employment eligibility. Documents described on Form I-9’s List A confirm both identity and eligibility. If an employee does not have an item from List A, then he/she must provide one item from both List B and List C, which are stated as under

  • List A:S. Passport, permanent resident card (Form I-551), foreign passport with a temporary I-551 stamp.
  • List B: Driver’s license, military ID, voter registration card.
  • List C: Certification of birth abroad, Native American tribal document, employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The employer must also have to finish and complete Section 3, should a former employee come back to work for the business within three years of completing the first Form I-9.

There are three steps to completing Form I-9

  • The employer fills out Form I-9
  • The employee provides his/her documentation, and
  • The employer verifies the documentation

Step 1: First of all, you must have to fill Out 3 Sections on the I-9 Form which will be given here.

The I-9 form is completed by more than one person so no doubt a lot amount of time would be invested and spend in one day or it can take more than a day certainly. Section 1 is to be completed by the employer and verified by the employee at the beginning of the employment or on the first day of the job. It can be completed before the new hires’ first day, but not before offering the employee a job. And you can’t screen out employees using an I-9 form prior to a job offer.

Here are the 3 sections are available in order to complete the I-9 form’s three sections

Section 1: Employee Information and Attestation

Any time after a job offer has been made and before the end of an employee’s first day on the job. Ask the employee to complete the verification.

Section 2: Employer or Authorised Representative Review and Verification

Within three days of the employee’s date of joining the job. If an employee is unable to complete within 3 days of hire, then he/she may be terminated.

Section  3: Reverification and Rehires

Anytime in the future, if an employee’s documentation, such as his/her permanent resident ID card expires. Complete as needed to verify renewed documents or validate information for rehires.

Let’s read about these more in detail as given below.

an take more than a day certainly. Section 1 is to be completed by the employer and verified by the employee at the beginning of the employment or at the first day of the job. It can be completed before the new hires’ first day, but not before offering the employee a job. And you can’t screen out employees using an I-9 form prior to a job offer.

Here are the 3 sections are available in order to complete the I-9 form’s three sections

Section 1: Employee Information and Attestation

Any time after a job offer has been made and before the end of an employee’s first day on the job. Ask the employee to complete the verification.

Section 2: Employer or Authorised Representative Review and Verification

Within three days of the employee’s date of joining the job. If an employee is unable to complete within 3 days of hire, then he/she may be terminated.

Section  3: Reverification and Rehires

Anytime in the future, if an employee’s documentation, such as his/her permanent resident ID card expires. Complete as needed to verify renewed documents or validate information for rehires.

Let’s read about these more in detail as given below.

Section 1: Employee Information and Attestation

Section 1 must be completed on the employee’s first day of employment. This section provides fields for the employee to provide their name, address, contact information, birth date, and Social Security number. US citizens would then checkbox one, confirming that they are a citizen of the US. Ultimately, the employee would sign and date the form.

Complete instructions, including details such as how to manage hyphenated last names, how to format the date, and which fields may be left blank, are provided on the USCIS website.

Some employees may like to have the assistance of a translator. If one is used, the translator or preparer will certainly identify the lower section of the document. More importantly, if over 1 translator or preparer is used, you can attach and add a supplemental form to provide names, contact information and signatures of additional preparers.

Section 2: Employer or Authorised Representative Review and Verification

Section 2 is used to verify the employee’s eligibility once the employee submits their documentation. Many employers ask new hires to bring it with them on their first day reporting to work. Nonetheless, the documentation must be provided within three business days.

After viewing (and often taking a photocopy), the employer must complete and sign this section of the form. In some cases, even if the employee does not receive and get their documentation, even though they have applied for it. Instead, they may have a receipt. For instance, an employee can hold a temporary driver’s license or a receipt for their permanent resident or Social Security card.

It’s OK to use those receipts as long as you verify the actual document in Section 3 before the expiration date of the receipt. If the employee is unable to provide acceptable documentation within the initial three-day time, the employee is to be terminated.  Just take a look at an example, if the employee is hired on a Monday, and on Thursday has not yet provided documentation, the employer has the right to terminate that employee for not carry out the task of document authorization.

Section 3: Re-verification and Re-hiring

Section 3 is typically used only for those who are not citizens and provides a location to re-verify documents of existing employees after their current documentation expires. Also, you probably use that section in case you rehire an employee and need to confirm that the existing documentation provided on their original I-9 form remains valid. This makes you feel relax for not completing a new I-9 form for a rehired employee.

Step 2: Employee Provides I-9 Documentation

The US Citizens Immigration Services (USCIS) provides an I-9 form desktop widget that makes it easy for you to request employees to complete the I-9 form online. Additionally, many payroll providers provide the I-9 form in an electronic new hire packet that can be emailed to the employee.

Furthermore, paper forms are the second ideal option and can be downloaded from USCIS and handed over or mailed to the employee for completing the process. It is helpful to request the employee bring their I-9 documents on day one.

A best practice is asking or informing the employee over the phone or via email if they have the required experience and documentation or not, as many of them are aware of what to bring or not. Consider asking your new hires these questions

  • Do you have a current US passport? or
  • Do you have a driver’s license and Social Security card?

If the employee responds yes in their answer, ask them to bring those documents along with them on the first day. Otherwise, you may need to go through the list of potential documents that can be used to verify employment eligibility and see which ones they may have.

Having this conversation in advance of the employee’s first day gives the employee time to track down their identification documentation so they can bring it to the office when they start work. Must keep in head that they have only three days from their start date to complete the verifying process or they risk losing out on the job.

Step 3: Verify The Employee’s I-9 Eligibility Documents

The employer is responsible for verifying the information provided by employees. The government does not expect you to be a forensic expert but does expect that you will use common sense and due diligence when you review documents. For example, if a document clearly appears to be photocopied and modified, then you need to ask for a copy of the original document afterward.

Employers can also use a government tool called E-Verify to verify work eligibility online and reduce their risk of hiring an ineligible worker. E-Verify is mandatory in some states, as well as also required for any business doing federal contract work. In some locations, using electronic verify may be a condition in order to get a business license.

Common Mistakes Employers Make With Form I-9

Filling out Form I-9 seems troublesome as there is little information on employees and employers must adhere to. Below are mentioned a few things that HR professionals may like to read out for as they complete these documents.

  • Do not file Form I-9 with the government. Form I-9 is to be kept by the business at the time of an audit is conducted. Should an employee leave the company, HR must retain the forms for a period of up to three years from the date of hire or one year after the employee’s final day, whichever is longer.
  • Form I-9 could not be used in any capacity before making a job offer to a potential employee. Doing so could violate limitations and rules regarding discrimination against workers based on their ethnicity, race, color, and other identifying factors.
  • HR must ensure that both the employee and employer have dated and old documents. And neglecting to date Form I-9 within three business days of hire renders the form incomplete or fraudulent.

Penalties For Incomplete Form I-9 Compliance

If ICE finds that a company is not compliant with the regulations of Form  I-9, then the ICE will notify the company and allow ten business days for correction. Failing to provide Form I-9 during an audit could subject employers to monetary fines up to $1,100 per violation.

ICE may also criminally prosecute employers that knowingly hired employees ineligible for work in the U.S. Furthermore,  fining these businesses anywhere from $375 to $16,000 per violation depending on the severity of the charge.

Should a business continuously violate and break From I-9 stipulations, ICE reserves the right to bar the company from receiving government benefits in the future? I-9 penalties can range from $200 to nearly $20,000.

This includes document mistakes at the lower-end, such as failing to complete an I-9 for a new hire, to wilful mistakes at the upper-end, such as knowingly hiring illegal workers or falsifying records. Fines are applied to each I-9 form, and they increase with each offense.

Therefore, in order to ensure businesses comply with law and rules and avoid penalties, it may be wise for them to invest in an HRIS application for assistance in tracking and storing documentation. It is an invaluable tool for all companies who are looking to increase efficiency in the HR department.

Conclusion

In today’s time, paperwork is not typically anyone’s favorite part of running a business. But the I-9, like other required documents, when done properly, can save you money by avoiding fines.

Take a few minutes to familiarise and aware yourself with the I-9 form and requirements before your next hire. Also, consider auditing your current I-9 files to guarantee existing forms that were done correctly. Doing so may save you money in the long run. To ensure that your I-9 documentation and new hire on-boarding are fully compliant, it is a good idea to work with a certified HR manager.

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