A Quick Guide to I-9 Compliance


Every American employer is required to provide Form I-9 to new employees to verify their eligibility to work in the United States. Since this form is regularly updated, it is important to stay informed of any changes. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website regularly posts relevant updates. Below we will provide a general overview of basic compliance requirements.

Complete the form on time

Each employee must be eligible to work in the United States when hired. To ensure eligibility, employers must provide (the most current version of) Form I-9. Section 1 of the form must be completed before the first day of employment and after employment has been offered. Note that the form should not be submitted before the job offer, as this could raise suspicion of discrimination.

Under the “Thursday Rule,” once Section 1 is completed, the employer must complete Section 2 within 3 days of the employee’s first payday.

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Provide the required documents

In order to prove eligibility, the employee must provide the appropriate work authorization documents (as indicated on page 2 of Form I-9). They can use 1 document from list A or 1 document from list B and list C.

To meet this requirement, the new recruit may, for example, provide only an American passport (from list A). Alternatively, they can give both a US driver’s license (from List B) And a social security card (from list C). In all cases, the documents must be original — they cannot be photocopied or scanned — and the employer (or a representative) must view the documents in person, even if the employee is hired remotely.

If the document in question has been lost, damaged or stolen, the employee can provide a receipt for the item for a limited period of time. For a list of acceptable receipts and their associated validity periods, see section 4.4 of the Employer Handbook.

Dot your i’s and cross your t’s

The employer must ensure that the form has been completed in its entirety (including signatures and dates for both sections) and that all information is accurate. Once work authorization documents are submitted, they must be immediately copied and filed in the appropriate file. To this end, it may be a good idea to maintain separate records for current and former employees, as this will make it easier to retrieve documents if requested by USCIS. And as a security measure, the employer may also wish to retain records for 3 years after employment ends.

Finally, it is important to maintain the same filing practice for each employee. Failure to do so could result in discrimination issues. Consistency, in this sense, is essential.

We have other helpful tips for improving your I-9 process here. Or do you need additional help managing work visa compliance? We have what you need.

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