Form I-9, issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), plays a crucial role in the employment process in the United States. It verifies the eligibility of individuals to work in the country, ensuring that employees are legally authorized for employment.
Necessity of Form I-9
- Legal Work Authorization Verification: It confirms that an employee can legally work in the U.S., a fundamental requirement for all employers.
- Compliance with Immigration Laws: Employers must comply with immigration laws by verifying and maintaining Form I-9 for each employee.
- Preventing Penalties: Non-compliance can lead to severe penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.
Who Uses Form I-9?
Form I-9 is used by all U.S. employers to verify the legal working status of their employees, regardless of whether they are full-time, part-time, or remote workers. Exceptions include employees hired before November 6, 1986, certain casual domestic workers, employees of staffing agencies, and independent contractors.
Using Form I-9
- Downloading: The form is available on the USCIS website.
- Employee's Role: On the first day of employment, the employee fills out the first section and presents appropriate documentation.
- Employer's Responsibility: The employer verifies the documents, completes the second section, and retains the form for three years from the start date or one year after employment ends.
Flexibility for Remote Verification
Since March 2020, there has been temporary relaxation in in-person verification requirements due to COVID-19, allowing for remote verification under certain circumstances.
Filling Out Form I-9
Employee Section: Employees provide personal details and attest to their legal authorization to work in the U.S.
Employer Verification: Employers verify the documents and record details in the second section within three days of the employee’s start date.
- List A (Identity and Employment Authorization): U.S. Passport, Permanent Resident Card, Employment Authorization Document, etc.
- List B (Identity Only): Driver's License, State ID card, School ID, etc.
- List C (Employment Authorization Only): Social Security card, birth certificate, employment authorization documents from DHS.
How to File Form I-9
Form I-9 is not filed with the government but must be retained by employers and available for inspection by authorized government officers.
Form I-9 is a fundamental component of the U.S. employment process, ensuring compliance with immigration laws and verifying the legal working status of employees. Its proper completion and maintenance are essential for employers to avoid legal penalties and ensure a lawful workforce.