How Long Can I Wait to Complete the I-9?

by Alexis Cameron February 23, 2011

As added protection to your business, the government requires that you as the employer must have every employee hired fill out the I-9 form. This form from the IRS has been in practice since November 6, 1896 and is simply insurance that you have checked that your employee has the documents and ability to work legally in the United States. Regardless of current immigration status, all workers including U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary foreign citizens are required to provide documentation.

You have some leeway as to when this document is completed:

Section one must be completed prior to the end of the employee’s first full day. Sections two and three must be completed prior to the end of the employee’s third day.

The law dictates that employees must complete the documents while working for pay. It is not unusual for an employer to have an newly hired employee bring the acceptable documents on his or her first day, whether it is to start work or just as orientation, and complete all three sections.

For an employee that is only to be hired for three days, the entire document must be completed on the first day of employment.

Discrimination laws prevent any employer from terminating an employee after hire simply based on the documents that are provided. This is assuming the employee has provided the necessary documents proving eligibility to lawfully work in the U.S. It is also unlawful to determine employment eligibility solely based on acceptable documents.

While an instruction form is available for print in Spanish, at this time the form must be completed in English.

All completed I-9 forms must remain on file for three years from the date of hire or one year from the date of termination.

It may seem unnecessary, but this form that takes only minutes to complete can save you and your business from criminal penalties if you are unable to provide proof of i-9 compliance.

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