A Step-by-step guide for complying with I-9 requirements
Form I-9 and its associated process have been developed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for employers to verify identity and employability during the hiring process. Form I-9 must be completed for every employee and follow a prescribed process that requires adherence to strict procedures and timelines.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can audit an employer’s records at any time, regardless of whether there is cause. We’ve developed this step-by-step guide to assist with your company practices, policy updates, and compliance efforts for I-9 compliance.
Step 1: Employee statements
In the first section of Form I-9, the employee or candidate attests to their status to legally work in the United States. Ensure all employees fully complete, sign, and date Section 1 of Form I-9 no later than their first day of employment. Every field must be filled in, except the email address and telephone number, which are optional. DO NOT backdate forms. Instead, enter the current date and your initials by the date field.
Step 2: Translator information, if provided
Check the appropriate box at the bottom of Section 1 indicating whether a translator was used to help the employee complete any portion of the form. If a translator was used, you must provide the translator’s complete information; no field should be left blank.
Step 3: Document verification
In section 2 of Form I-9, the employer, or a representative for the employer, verifies that the documents provided align with section 1 and indicate the individual is eligible to work. The person verifying the documents must see the physical documents provided on the employee’s first day of work.
There are several acceptable documents that the candidate may present as part of the verification process; however, employers may not specify which documents they will accept for verification. These documents must establish both the individual’s identity and authorization to work in the United States. Some documents establish both identity and authorization to work, like a passport or permanent resident card. In the absence of these, the individual will need to provide two documents. Proof of identity may be established with documents like a driver’s license, ID card, or voter registration card. Authorization to work may be established with such documents as a social security card, birth certificate, or employment authorization documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security. For a complete list of acceptable documentation, please refer to the USCIS site.
Section 2 of Form I-9 must be fully completed, signed, and dated within three business days of the employee’s first day of work. Every field should be completed, and only approved abbreviations should be used.
Note: If your organization is remote or the employee is a remote worker, an authorized representative must still physically review the documents. Most companies send a letter of introduction to establish the need for an I-9 authorization and use a notary public.
Step 4: Reverification
Employers MUST reverify by completing section 3 when an employee’s employment authorization or documentation of employment authorization has expired. Section 3 should be completed on the day the reverification occurs, and all fields should be filled in. Reverification should occur no later than the actual expiration date of the work authorization.
Employers MAY choose to reverify by completing section 3 when:
- An employee is rehired within three years of the date that the I-9 was initially completed.
- An employee has a legal name change.
Step 5: Verification document copies
Organizations have the choice as to whether they will or will not make copies of documents collected as proof of the right to work in the U.S. Either option is acceptable, but organizations must be consistent – if copies of documents are kept, they must be kept for all employees.
If your organization chooses to collect copies of the documents, these must be stored with the I-9 in an I-9 binder or digital folder where all employee I-9s are stored. Employee I-9 forms must be stored separately from the employee’s personnel file.
Step 6: I-9 document retention
Establish and follow an I-9 document retention policy. Do not keep I-9s longer than required. Employers must retain I-9 forms for all current employees. For separated employees, employers must retain original I-9 forms for three years after the date of hire, or one year after the date employment ends, whichever is later.
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As you can see, I-9 compliance demands perfection. Trüpp is here to help! Get a clear picture of where your records, policies, and practices stand with an I-9 compliance audit from Trüpp. It all starts with a conversation!