What Is an I-9 Form For Employment

What Is an I-9 Form For Employment?

An I-9 Form is a document required for work authorization to prove an individual is legally eligible for employment in the United States. Form I-9, officially named Employment Eligibility Verification, is legally required by the Immigration Reform and Control Act. This law requires employees and employers to complete the form and retain a copy of it.

Purpose of an I-9 Form

The reason for Form I-9 is to ensure workers are eligible for employment at businesses based in the United States.

Form I-9 verifies the identity of employees and ensures that the individual is legally capable of working in the U.S.

All employers must fulfill their requirements for completion, retaining, and filing of Form I-9, and all employees must fill it out regardless of their citizenship status.

Sanctions For I-9 Violations

There are potentially severe sanctions for employers who fail to fulfill their legal obligations to complete, file, and retain Form I-9. If a business is found to hire and continue to employ an unauthorized worker knowingly, they may face fines between $573 to $20,130 for every employee. 

There are two categories of violations: substantive violations and technical violations.

Substantive Violations

Substantive violations are severe errors that fail to verify an employee’s eligibility. Fines for substantive violations range between $230 to $2,292. Some examples of substantive violations include:

  • Failing to supply a Form I-9 to an employee
  • Failing to include an employee’s name in Section 1
  • Failing to verify the correct documents

Technical Violations

Technical violations are minor errors that the IRS will permit employers to fix. An employer will typically be given ten business days to correct the error if it resulted from “good faith.” If the error is corrected within ten days, typically, a fine will not be assessed. Examples of technical violations include:

  • Failing to provide the employee’s start date
  • Failing to provide the representative’s business title, the name of the company, or the address
  • Failing to provide the date of rehiring for an employee

Required Documentation to Complete the I-9 Form

To complete the form, an employee must provide acceptable documentation to prove they are eligible for employment in the U.S. There are three categories of acceptable documents, which are listed in Lists A, B, and C. An employee must provide either one document from List A or one document each from Lists B and C. These lists, and their respective documents include:

List A

Documentation on List A will establish an employee’s identity and eligibility for employment. Documents in this category include:

  • A U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card
  • A Permanent Resident Card (commonly known as a “green card”)
  • A Temporary Resident Card
  • An unexpired foreign passport with an I-551 stamp or with Form I-94
  • An Employment Authorization Document that includes a photograph (Form I-766)
  • An Employment Authorization Card.

List B

Documents on List B only establish an individual’s identity. To verify eligibility for employment, a document from this list must be submitted with a document on List C. Documents in this category include:

  • Driver’s license or identification card issued by a U.S. state or outlying possession
  • Federal or state identification card with a photograph and identifying information
  • School ID card with photograph
  • U.S. Military ID Card or Draft Record
  • Voter Registration Card
  • Native American tribal document
  • Driver’s license issued by a Canadian government authority
  • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document Card
  • Trusted traveler documentation

List C

Documents on List C establish an individual’s employment eligibility and must be accompanied by a List B document as well. List C documents include:

  • A U.S. Social Security card (Unless the card indicates otherwise.)
  • A birth certificate from the U.S. (or an outlying possession)
  • U.S. State Department or Consular Report of Certification of Birth Abroad
  • A Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
  • A Certificate of Naturalization
  • Native American tribal document,
  • An employment authorization card 
  • Form I-94 Permitting Work with a Particular Employer

Completing Form I-9

An employer must complete a Form I-9 for every employee. These are the steps needed to complete the form correctly.

Employee Information

The employee fills out this part of the form. The employee will provide several details identifying themselves, including their full legal name, current address, date of birth, and if the employer participates in E-Verify, social security number. Optional pieces of information include a phone number and email address. After completing the information part of the form, the employee will sign, date, and attest that they are eligible for employment in the U.S.

Employer Review and Verification

The next step of the I-9 Form is for the employer or an authorized representative to review the documentation the employee provides them. The employee will then describe the verification documents within Section 2. The employer is required to complete this within three business days of an employee’s date of hire. The employer will then note the employee’s date of employment, sign, and date the form. Employers must then retain a copy of the document and be prepared to present it upon inspection by authorized government officers.

Rehiring an Employee

If an employer is rehiring an employee within three years of the original completion of their Form I-9, they only need to complete Section 3. The employer will list the employee’s name and the date of rehiring. The employee will then sign the document to confirm they are still eligible for U.S. employment.

Final Thoughts

An employer must take care to complete Form I-9 properly. Correctly completing this form is required by law, and sanctions for failing to do so correctly or failing to summarily present them upon inspection can be severe. 

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