I-9 Form Instructions

In order to maintain legal compliance, businesses must ensure that they properly complete and retain Form I-9 for all newly hired employees. The I-9 form is a critical document that verifies the identity and employment authorization of individuals working in the United States. By adhering to the instructions provided on the form, employers can avoid potential penalties and ensure that their workforce is authorized to work. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the I-9 form, its instructions, and how businesses can navigate the process effectively. Throughout this article, you will find answers to frequently asked questions, offering insight into common concerns and facilitating informed decision-making for business owners.

I-9 Form Instructions

The I-9 form is an essential document that employers must complete for each employee they hire in the United States. This form serves as proof of the employee’s identity and work authorization, as required by federal law. As an employer, it is crucial to understand the purpose of the I-9 form and the proper procedures for completing it to ensure compliance with immigration regulations. This article will guide you through the instructions for the I-9 form, highlighting important considerations and common mistakes to avoid.

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1. Purpose of the I-9 Form

The primary purpose of the I-9 form is to verify the identity and employment eligibility of individuals hired for employment in the United States. It ensures that employers hire only those who are authorized to work and helps to prevent unlawful employment practices. By completing this form, employers fulfill their responsibility to document their employees’ eligibility status, thereby overall compliance with immigration laws.

2. Who Must Complete the I-9 Form?

All employers in the United States, regardless of their size or the number of employees they have, are required to complete the I-9 form for every employee they hire. This requirement applies to both citizens and noncitizens. It is important to note that even if you employ just one person, you must complete the I-9 form for that individual.

3. Proper Completion of Section 1

Section 1 of the I-9 form is completed by the employee on or before their first day of work. As an employer, you must ensure that your employees accurately and fully complete this section. The information provided in Section 1 includes the employee’s full name, address, date of birth, Social Security number (if applicable), email address (if applicable), and immigration or citizenship status (if applicable).

It is important to review Section 1 carefully for accuracy and completeness. Remind your employees to sign and date Section 1 and to provide any additional information required based on their immigration or citizenship status.

4. Documents Required for Section 2

Section 2 of the I-9 form is completed by the employer within three business days of the employee’s first day of work. This section requires the employer to physically examine the employee’s original documents that establish their identity and employment authorization. The employee must present one document from List A, which establishes both identity and work eligibility, or one document from List B to establish identity, and one document from List C to establish work eligibility.

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5. Acceptable Documents for Verification

The USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) provides a detailed list of acceptable documents for verification in Lists A, B, and C. It is important to ensure that the documents presented by the employee are unexpired and appear genuine. Acceptable documents include a U.S. passport, Permanent Resident Card, Employment Authorization Document, or a combination of other acceptable documents.

As an employer, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the specific documents listed in Lists A, B, and C of the form I-9 instructions to ensure compliance and avoid accepting fraudulent documents.

6. Completing Section 2 – Employer Responsibilities

In Section 2 of the I-9 form, the employer is responsible for reviewing the employee’s original documents and ensuring they are genuine and relate to the individual presenting them. The employer must record the document title, issuing authority, document number, and expiration date (if applicable). Additionally, the employer must provide their business name, address, and signature, certifying that they reviewed the documents and believe them to be genuine.

It is crucial to complete Section 2 accurately, as any errors or omissions may lead to penalties for noncompliance.

7. Common Mistakes to Avoid

When completing the I-9 form, there are several common mistakes that employers should be aware of and avoid:

  1. Failure to complete Section 2 within the required timeframe.
  2. Not reviewing the employee’s original documents or accepting expired documents.
  3. Accepting documents that do not establish identity and work authorization.
  4. Failing to sign and date the form in Section 2.
  5. Preparing incomplete or inconsistent I-9 forms.

By avoiding these common mistakes, employers can maintain compliance with immigration regulations and prevent potential penalties.

8. Reverification and Rehires

In certain situations, you may need to reverify an employee’s employment authorization upon the expiration of their document. It is essential to set reminders for reverification to ensure that you maintain an up-to-date and valid I-9 form for each employee. Additionally, if an employee is rehired within three years of the date their previous employment authorization expired, you may use the previously completed I-9 form for that employee.

9. Storage and Retention of I-9 Forms

Employers are required to retain completed I-9 forms for each employee for a specific period. These forms must be stored securely and made available for inspection by authorized government officers upon request. It is recommended to store I-9 forms separately from an employee’s personnel files to maintain confidentiality and ease of access during government audits.

10. Penalties for Noncompliance

Noncompliance with I-9 form requirements can result in severe penalties for employers, including fines, and potential criminal charges for knowingly employing unauthorized individuals. By diligently complying with the instructions and maintaining accurate records, employers can avoid the consequences of noncompliance and ensure a lawful workforce.

11. Frequently Asked Questions about the I-9 Form

Q: Can an employee refuse to complete the I-9 form? A: No, all employees hired in the United States must complete the I-9 form.

Q: Can an employer require specific documents for Section 2 verification? A: No, the employee must choose which acceptable documents to present from Lists A, B, and C.

Q: Can an employer use a photocopy of an employee’s documents? A: No, the employer must physically examine the original documents.

Q: Can an employer complete Section 2 of the I-9 form before an employee begins work? A: No, Section 2 must be completed within three business days of the employee’s first day of work.

Q: How long should employers retain completed I-9 forms? A: Employers must retain these forms for three years from the employee’s hire date or one year after their employment ends, whichever is later.

In conclusion, understanding the proper procedures for completing the I-9 form is crucial for employers to ensure compliance with immigration regulations. By following the instructions diligently and avoiding common mistakes, employers can establish a lawful workforce and maintain accurate records. Should you have any further questions or require legal assistance regarding I-9 compliance, we encourage you to contact our experienced team for a consultation.

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