What is an I-9?

What is an I-9?

Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and non-citizens. Both employees and employers (or authorized representatives of the employer) must complete the form. On the form, an employee must attest to his or her employment authorization. The employee must also present his or her employer with acceptable documents evidencing identity and employment authorization. The employer must examine the employment eligibility and identity document(s) an employee presents to determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and to relate to the employee and record the document information on the Form I-9. The list of acceptable documents can be found on the last page of the form. Employers must retain Form I-9 for a designated period and make it available for inspection by authorized government officers.

NOTE: State agencies may use Form I-9. Also, some agricultural recruiters and referrers for a fee may be required to use Form I-9.

An Employer’s participation in E-Verify does not replace Form I-9 requirements or the need to comply.

E-Verify participation benefits employers in ensuring a legal workforce and the presumption of good faith compliance, should there be I-9 audits (which have increased drastically over the past few years, by the way). E-Verify participation is also a requirement for an employer, if they are a Federal Contractor or employs people in certain states where the use of E-verify is mandated by the state law.

Here is a table outlining the major differences between Form I-9 and E-Verify:
I9 Form Graphic

What are the current civil penalties?

  • Violations of I-9 requirements: fines range from $110 - $1,100 per I-9.
  • Knowingly hiring or continuing to employ: fines range from $375 - $3,200 per alien
  • Pattern or practice: $3,300 - $11,000
  • Debarment from government contracts for “knowingly employing an unauthorized worker”
  • Criminal penalties: fines and/or imprisonment

What are the basic Form I-9 requirements?

  • Employers must complete for every new hire after November 6, 1986.
  • Employers may not knowingly hire or continue to employ a person who is not authorized to work in the United States. Knowingly means “actual knowledge” or “constructive knowledge.”
  • Physical presence of the employee is required.
  • Must see original documents, not copies. However will accept a certified copy of birth certificate.
  • Attach photocopies of documents to I-9.

No exception for temporary or part-time employment.


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