Tips for Form I-9

“I’m never sure how to complete the I-9 form so I worry that I might be missing something important.”

Your HR Survival Tip

The Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 is intended to help you and the Federal government know you are hiring people who are legally able to work in the U.S. This process has been managed by the Department of Homeland Security for over 10 years and the form does change every few years. Most of the changes are based on the various forms of identification they allow to be used by employees. Here are a few important things to know about the form:

  • The version of the Form I-9 you are using must be current as of the employee’s hire date. This means you will likely have several different versions you’ve used over the years. You do not have employees complete a new form every time a new version is available. If you do, the form version will not match their hire date.

  • Section 1 must be completed by the employee. When the employee is done, make sure they have signed and dated it.

  • There is a Spanish version of the Form I-9 but, unless you are in Puerto Rico, you cannot use that version. However, employees may refer to it to know how to answer the English version questions.

  • Frequently left blank is the employee info at the top of Section 2 and this must be completed.

  • The most confusing part of the form is Section 2. This is completed by a company representative but does not need to actually be an employee. Employees must either present one unexpired item from List A or they will need to present two forms of identification, one from List B and one from List C. You are not allowed to tell them which forms of identification they should use… just give them page 3 with the lists. Currently, employees can submit a picture or photocopy of their identification. However, you are to review (and touch) that same identification as soon as possible.

  • After entering the identification, you’ll notice the certification section above your signature requires the employee’s first day of employment. This is very important because, legally, you have only three business days to complete this form once the employee’s employment has begun. If the employee hasn’t produced appropriate identification within those three days, the employee must stop working until they do. They are not legally allowed to work beyond those three days until you can finish this form.

There are fines for not completing the form correctly so it pays to audit your forms. If you find corrections are needed, do not alter the form. Instead, explain the correction on a separate piece of paper and attach it to the form. You can find this information and more in the helpful employer’s guide on the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) website.

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