Completion of the I-9

The employment eligibility verification form, Form I-9, is divided into three sections. Section 1 is to be completed by the employee, while Sections 2 and 3 are to be completed by the employer.

Section 1 - The employee is asked to provide basic personal information, including her or his name, address, date of birth, and social security number. The employee also must attest, under penalty of perjury, that he or she is: (i) a citizen or national of the U.S., (ii) a lawful permanent resident, or (iii) an alien authorized to work. In addition, the employee must sign and date the form. Section 1 of the Form I-9 must be completed "at the time of hiring," which means "the actual commencement of employment of an employee for wages or other remuneration." Employers are responsible for ensuring that all employees have properly completed Section 1. Moreover, employers will be held liable for any incorrect information in Section 1, such as a failure to record the expiration date of a time-limited work authorization document.

Section 2 - The employer must verify the identity and work authorization of the employee, and indicate the date upon which employment began. The employer must "physically examine" the required documents and complete Section 2 within "three business days of the hire." By requiring the employer to specify the date on which employment began, the INS can easily determine whether the Form I-9 was completed within three business days of the employee's hire. In examining the documents presented by an employee, the employer must ensure that the employee has presented either a document from "List A" of the "Lists of Acceptable Documents" enumerated in the Form I-9 (such as a current or expired U.S. passport) or both a document from "List B" (such as a driver's license) and a document from "List C" (such as a social security card). "List A" documents establish both identity and work eligibility; "List B" documents establish only identity; and "List C" documents establish only employment authorization.

The employer may not require that the employee present a particular document from the lists of approved documents, nor may the employer require the employee to present more than the required number of documents. Employers who require documentation in excess of what the Form I-9 specifies may violate IRCA's anti-discrimination provisions.

Section 3 - This section is to be used by employers to update and reverify employment authorization. Reverification must be completed on or before the expiration date of the INS work authorization provided by the employee in Section 1, or noted by the employer in Section 2. Upon reverification, employees must present a document showing continuing eligibility to work or a new grant of employment authorization. In reverifying an employee's eligibility to work, the employer must accept any document from "List A" or "List C," including a social security card, as evidence of continuing employment authorization and may not demand an INS work authorization document. An employer violates IRCA by insisting that applicant present INS work authorization card at time of reverification.

Latour and Lleras can assist your company in protecting itself a confidential, internal I-9 audit.

Note: IRCA does not require employers to complete I-9 forms for an employee hired on or before November 6, 1986 (IRCA's effective date), with the exception of certain types of breaks in employment.