Sunday, June 30, 2013

Employment Verification - Form I-9

On May 7th, 2013, a new version of the Form I-9 became effective and employers must only use this newer form for their Employment Eligibility Verification.  This is a form that will help you verify and authorize your employees.  Let’s spend a few minutes discussing what this form is and how it works.  As always, if you have comments, please feel free to add your thoughts to the discussion below this post.

Employment Verification - Form I-9

Prior to the Form I-9, employers were not required to prove the legality of an immigrant seeking employment.  However, the I-9 was created out of the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986, tasking employers with identifying and verifying their workers right to work.  Since then, the Form has undergone several revisions as additional laws have been rolled out, but still remains the primary form used in reviewing the status of a person’s right to work in this country legally.  Employees must keep Companies are required to review documents supporting an employee’s claim to legality.  This is enforced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).


When the I-9 Form was first introduced, employers could choose from any of 29 different forms of identification to prove an employees’ right to work.  This has evolved into a much shorter list over time.  You need the documents to do two things; prove that an employee is who they say they are, and prove that they are eligible to work in the United States.  As of this writing, these are some of the documents that the government finds acceptable for identification: 

List A Documents - Prove both Identity and Employment Eligibility
  United States Passport
  Permanent Resident Card or Registration Receipt Card
  Employment Authorization Card
  Some Foreign Passports

List B Documents - Prove only Identity
  Driver’s License
  Federal/State Identification Card
  School ID Card with photo
  Voter Registration Card
  U.S. Military Card / Draft Record
  Military Dependent’s ID Card

List C Documents - Prove only Employment Eligibility
  Social Security Card (unrestricted)
  Birth Certificate
  US Citizen or Resident Citizen ID Card

This is only a partial list of all of these documents.  If you have a question about a particular document that you have been presented, be sure to research it further with the USCIS.  While not required, it is highly recommended that Employers retain a copy of these identifying documents with the I-9.  Be sure to keep all of these documents in a separate file from the rest of an employee’s documentation to minimize the possibility of the documents from forming a basis for discrimination.  Also, per the DHS, “You should not shred previously retained copies of documents. DHS regulations provide that once copies of documents are made, they must be retained with the Forms I-9.”


Failure to make appropriate use of the I-9 Form, failure to review acceptable documentation, and failure to keep and maintain proper I-9 documentation can result in a loss of government contracts, serious civil fines, and even criminal penalties.  There are very detailed charts and lists under the websites for both the USCIS and ICE detailing the level of penalty that an employer could face for failure to heed the law.  Monetary loss due to fines on a single worker could range from $110 for a failure to complete the I-9 properly, and up to $16,000 for repeated hiring offenses.  Once you add in the possible money lost from cancelled contracts and possible jail time, you can see how seriously your company could be damaged for failing to completely examine the I-9 for every employee hired.

Employers that have questions about the I-9 Form and all related topics can contact the customer service area at 888-464-4218 or email them at 

And remember all of you Human Resources professionals: Be Human... Be a Resource... Be a Resource for Humans.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are by the author Trevor Stasik, and do not necessarily reflect the views of any employer or any other organization. Please note, this information is based on my understanding and is only to be used for informational and educational purposes. Do not take what I am writing as advice. Seek your own legal counsel and/or see a tax accountant before making business or personal decisions. The author of this post makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

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