The Importance of Form I-9

Completing Form I-9 is a requirement of all new employees.  In July 2017 the form was revised and employers are required to start using the new version of the form.  Below are some topics that can help you understand the importance of the form and what to do if you are required to provide a completed Form I-9 to an official from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Purpose of Form 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 noncitizens. 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. Form instructions can be found here.

Questions and Answers

Click here to go to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Question and Answers web page.

Revised Form I-9 Now Available

USCIS released a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on July 17.  On Sept. 18, employers must use the revised form with a revision date of 07/17/17 N. Employers must continue following existing storage and retention rules (discussed later) for any previously completed Form I-9.

Inspections

Officials from the Department of Homeland Security, employees from the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) at the Department of Justice, and employees from the Department of Labor may inspect an employer’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Employers will generally receive a written Notice of Inspection at least 3 days before the inspection. These officials can inform the owner, designee, senior management official or registered agent of the business entity of an inspection in person or by certified U.S. mail, return receipt requested. Officials may also use subpoenas and warrants to obtain the forms without providing 3 days’ notice.

Officials generally choose where they will conduct a Form I-9 inspection. For example, officials may ask that an employer bring Form I-9 to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office. Sometimes, employers may arrange for an inspection at the location where the forms are stored.

When officials arrive to inspect an employer’s Form I-9, the employer must:

  • Retrieve and reproduce electronically stored Form I-9 and any other documents the officer requests;
  • Provide the officer with the necessary hardware and software to inspect electronic documents; and
  • Provide the officer with any existing electronic summary of the information recorded on the employer’s Form I-9.

Employers who refuse or delay an inspection may be in violation of the law.

 

Storage and Retention of Form I-9

How to store Form I-9

  1. On-site or at an off-site storage facility
  2. In a single format or a combination of formats, such a
  • paper
  • microfilm or microfiche
  • electronic

Officers from the Department of Homeland Security, employees from the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) at the Department of Justice, and employees from the Department of Labor may ask to inspect these forms.

No matter how you choose to store your Form I-9, you must be able to present them to government officials for inspection within 3 business days of the date when the forms were requested.

Form I-9 contains personal information about employees. When storing these forms (regardless of the format you choose), USCIS recommends that employers provide adequate safeguards to protect employee information.

How long to Retain Form I-9

To calculate how long to keep an employee’s Form I-9, enter the following:

1.  Date the employee began work for pay 1. ________________________

      A.  Add 3 years to the date on line 1.          A. ______________________

2.  The date employment was terminated2.  _______________________

     B.  Add 1 year to the date on line 2.            B.  _____________________

3.  Which date is later; A or B?                   3.  _______________________

      C.  Enter the later date.                               C. _____________________

The employer must retain Form I-9 until the date on Line C.