I-9 Compliance FAQs

In today’s constantly evolving regulatory landscape, it is imperative for businesses and their leaders to stay up-to-date on legal requirements to avoid potential risks and penalties. In this article, we will explore the frequently asked questions (FAQs) surrounding I-9 compliance, a crucial aspect of immigration law that pertains to the verification and authorization of employees’ eligibility to work in the United States. From understanding the purpose of Form I-9 to navigating through common pitfalls and best practices, this article aims to equip business owners with the knowledge necessary to ensure their compliance with the law. So, let’s dive into the world of I-9 compliance and address some of the burning questions you may have.

I-9 Compliance FAQs

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What is the purpose of Form I-9?

Form I-9, officially known as the Employment Eligibility Verification Form, serves the purpose of verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. The primary objective of this form is to ensure compliance with federal immigration laws and to prevent unauthorized employment. By completing Form I-9, employers can establish and document their employees’ eligibility to work legally in the country.

Who needs to complete Form I-9?

Both employers and employees have responsibilities when it comes to completing Form I-9. As an employer, if you hire individuals to work in the United States, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status, you are required to complete Form I-9 for each employee. On the other hand, employees working in the United States must provide the necessary documents to establish their identity and work authorization.

When should Form I-9 be completed?

Form I-9 should be completed for new hires before or on their first day of employment. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows employers three business days from the employee’s hire date to complete section 2 of the I-9 form, which includes reviewing and verifying the employee’s documents. Additionally, employers have obligations for reverification when an employee’s work authorization expires.

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What documents are acceptable for Form I-9 verification?

When completing Form I-9, certain documents are acceptable for verifying an employee’s identity and employment authorization. These documents are categorized into List A, List B, and List C. List A documents establish both identity and work authorization, while List B documents establish identity only and List C documents establish work authorization only. It is essential to follow the USCIS guidelines to ensure proper completion of Section 2 and avoid common pitfalls during the verification process.

What is the consequence of non-compliance with Form I-9 requirements?

Non-compliance with Form I-9 requirements can result in severe consequences for employers. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for enforcing I-9 compliance and can impose penalties for violations. These penalties range from fines for technical errors to more severe penalties for knowingly employing unauthorized workers. It is crucial for employers to maintain proper compliance and implement best practices to minimize the risks associated with non-compliance.

Are electronic signatures acceptable on Form I-9?

Yes, electronic signatures are considered acceptable on Form I-9. The USCIS permits the use of electronic signatures as long as certain requirements are met. Utilizing electronic I-9 systems can provide several benefits for employers, such as enhanced efficiency, accuracy, and ease of document management. However, it is important to be aware of the legal considerations surrounding electronic signature usage, including the verification and security measures required to ensure the integrity of the electronic forms.

What is the retention period for Form I-9?

Form I-9 must be retained by employers for a specific period of time. The general rule is to keep the form for three years after the date of hire or one year after the employment relationship ends, whichever is later. Properly retaining and storing I-9 forms is essential to comply with the documentation retention requirements. Employers should establish effective systems for auditing, inspecting, and maintaining these forms to ensure compliance in the event of an ICE inspection or audit.

What is E-Verify and is it mandatory?

E-Verify is an internet-based system that allows employers to confirm the employment eligibility of their employees by comparing the information provided on Form I-9 with government records. While participation in E-Verify is voluntary for most employers, some federal contractors and certain employers in certain states are required by law to use E-Verify. Utilizing E-Verify can provide various benefits, such as reducing the risk of hiring unauthorized workers and potential legal repercussions.

Can an employer reverify an employee’s employment authorization?

Yes, employers may need to reverify an employee’s employment authorization in certain circumstances. When an employee’s work authorization expires, employers must ensure that the employee is still authorized to work in the United States. The USCIS provides guidelines on when and how to reverify an employee’s work authorization, including completing Section 3 of Form I-9. Failure to properly reverify can result in non-compliance and potential penalties.

What should an employer do if an employee refuses to complete Form I-9?

In case an employee refuses to complete Form I-9, employers must be aware of their obligations and the appropriate steps to take. Employee refusal scenarios may occur due to various reasons, such as concerns about immigration status or personal beliefs. However, regardless of the reasons, employers must address the refusal promptly and assertively. Seeking legal advice from an experienced immigration attorney can help employers navigate through legal complexities and ensure compliance in such situations.


  1. What documents are acceptable for Form I-9 verification? Acceptable documents include a combination of documents from List A, List B, and List C. Some examples are U.S. Passport, Permanent Resident Card, Driver’s License, Social Security Card, and Employment Authorization Document. Always refer to the USCIS guidelines for a complete list.

  2. What are the penalties for non-compliance with Form I-9 requirements? Penalties for Form I-9 violations can range from fines for paperwork errors to substantial fines for knowingly employing unauthorized workers. These penalties depend on the severity and frequency of the violations.

  3. What are the benefits of using electronic I-9 systems? Electronic I-9 systems offer benefits such as streamlined processes, improved accuracy, enhanced document management, and simplified compliance with retention requirements. Additionally, these systems help employers maintain comprehensive audit trails.

  4. Is participation in E-Verify mandatory for all employers? Participation in E-Verify is generally voluntary for most employers. However, federal contractors and some employers in certain states are required by law to use E-Verify.

  5. What legal considerations should employers be aware of when using electronic signatures? Employers should ensure that their electronic signature systems comply with applicable laws and regulations, including the requirements for verification and integrity of electronic signatures. Consulting with legal experts can help employers navigate these considerations effectively.

Remember, for further guidance and to address your specific concerns around I-9 compliance, it is highly recommended to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Their expertise can be invaluable in ensuring your compliance with the complex requirements of Form I-9 and other immigration laws.

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