Form I-9: Your Primary Guide to Compliant Hiring

Hiring new employees is an exciting milestone for your business, but it also means navigating necessary compliance paperwork.

Business owner conducting a team meeting with their new hires.
Author By the Roll Editorial Team on April 22, 2024
Reading Time 5 min read

Understanding Form I-9, the cornerstone of verifying your team's work authorization, is essential for a smooth onboarding process and business protection. This article breaks down the critical elements of Form I-9, addressing what, why, how, when, and cost so you can confidently manage your new hires.

What is Form I-9?

Form I-9, officially titled "Employment Eligibility Verification," is a mandatory document issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It serves two crucial purposes.

1. Verifying Employee Identify: This confirms the new hire is who they say they are.

2. Ensuring the individual is legally authorized to work in the United States. This applies to both U.S. citizens and non-citizens.

Why is Form I-9 crucial for your business?

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires all U.S. employers to complete Form I-9. This law aims to prevent the hiring of undocumented workers. Completing and storing Form I-9 for each employee demonstrates your business's compliance with this law. Failure to comply can result in severe consequences, including:

  • Hefty fines: Penalties vary depending on the nature of the violation and can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per incident.
  • Audits and investigations: Noncompliance can trigger Department of Homeland Security audits, potentially disrupting your business.
  • Reputational damage: Public knowledge of I-9 violations can damage your business's reputation and make it more difficult to attract and retain employees.

Section 1

Employee Information and Attestation: On the first work day, your new hire is required to complete this section. They need to provide their full name, address, and contact information. Additionally, they need to declare their employment authorization status as a citizen, permanent resident, or other valid work authorization options. They must present their chosen documents to confirm their selection.

Section 2

Employer or Authorized Representative Review and Verification: You have three business days from the employee's start date to complete this section. You must physically inspect original and unexpired documents presented by the employee to verify their identity and work authorization. Ensure the documents are from the "List of Acceptable Documents" found on Form 1-9. Please record the document details carefully, including title, issuing authority, number, and expiration dates in Section 2.

Section 3

Reverification and rehires.You have some options if you rehire an employee within three years of their original Form I-9 completion. You can complete a new Form I-9 or use Supplement B on the existing form. When using Supplement B, you'll confirm that the original Form I-9 relates to the rehired employee and review that their authorization documents have yet to expire. Simply note the rehire date within the appropriate block in Supplement B. Should there be a change of name, document expiration, or a need to add an additional verification block, update their records accordingly. Remember that if the rehire happens more than three years after the original I-9, you'll need to complete a new form entirely.

Important Note: It is wise to frequently check the USCIS website for updates or changes to I-9 policies and procedures.

What is the List of Acceptable Documents for New Hires to use?

To complete the form, employees must provide documentation verifying their identity and authorization to work in the U.S. There are two lists of acceptable documents. List A to List B. List A offers a single document option that establishes identity and employment authorization. Examples include a U.S. passport, a Permanent Resident Card, or an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with a photograph. N Employees who don't have a List A document can use List B and List C documents combined. List B verifies identification with documents like a driver's license or state I.D. In contrast, List C verifies employment authorization documents like a Social Security card or an EAD without a photograph. Employers are prohibited from requesting specific documents or discriminating against employees based on their citizenship status.

Here's a more detailed breakdown of document requirements for Form I-9:

List A: Documents that Establish Both Identity and Employment Authorization.

  • Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration (Commonly known as a green card)
  • U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card
  • Foreign Passport with a temporary I-551
  • Employment Authorization Document with a photograph (Form I-1766)
  • Foreign Passport with a Form I-94 or Form I-94A bearing an endorsement to work.

List B: Documents that Establish Identity

  • Driver's license or state-issued I.D. card
  • I.D. card issued by a government agency.

List C: Documents that Establish Employment Authorization

  • U.S. Social Security Card
  • Birth certificate issued by a U.S. state or local authority.
  • Consular Report of Birth Aboard (Form- FS-240)
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560)
  • Native American tribal document
  • Unexpired Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by DHS.

Navigating the complexities of completing Form I-9 with remote employees can be challenging, but technology has provided solutions. Due to the pandemic, employers now have flexibility measures that allow them to remotely verify Form I-9. However, to utilize this option, employers must be enrolled in E-verify and create a case for the concerned employee.

The following are two solutions for employers to consider when completing Form I-9 with remote employees:

1. Remote Verification: According to specific rules of the Department of Homeland Security, authorized employers may examine documents remotely (e.g., over video). However, a physical inspection must occur within three business days of the employee returning to the worksite.

2. Electronic I-9 Systems: Specialized software platforms streamline I-9 completion and storage. These solutions guide employees and employers through the process, reducing errors. They are often integrated with remote document verification tools and can connect with e-verify, a government database.

Streamlining I-9 with Roll by ADP: Benefits for Small Businesses

Managing onboarding paperwork, specially Form I-9, can be time-consuming for small business owners. Roll by ADP offers an efficient solution to this problem. Roll can capture I-9 information and offer owners a choice between a digital or traditional paper-based process. With Roll, new hires receive a notification through the app to complete the I-9 form digitally. Alternatively, employers can access the link to the form on their timeline when adding a new employee. The flexibility of the platform streamlines the I-9 process, allowing small business owners to choose the best method for their workflow.

Roll by ADP offers an intuitive I-9 solution that provides a user-friendly platform for electronic form completion, verification, and secure storage. It also integrates Form I-9 with other essential new hire forms like W-4 and direct deposit authorization, providing a centralized onboarding process. This helps ensure accuracy and compliance, minimizing the risk of fines and audits.

Payroll • Business Basics • Small Business • Small Business Payroll
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