All employers are required to complete and store a Form I-9 for each new employee hired to work in the United States. Although this Employment Eligibility Verification Form is mandated and enforced by the federal government, it remains the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the entire Form I-9 is properly completed and signed within 3 business days of the first day of work.
Despite the form appearing simple on its face, our partners at I-9 Advantage tell us they receive countless questions about I-9 and the rules surrounding its completion. The Screening News Network sat down with Corporate Immigration Counsel, Sathab Abbo, to shed some light on the questions they hear most.
JG: People express confusion about the differences between Form I-9 and E-Verify. Can you please clarify?
SA: Form I-9 is the core of E-Verify. 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.
E-Verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from the Form I-9 to government records to confirm that an employee is authorized to work in the United States. Although E-Verify uses information from Form I-9, there are notable differences between Form I-9 and E-Verify requirements.
|Is mandatory||Is voluntary for most businesses|
|Does not require a Social Security number||Requires a Social Security number*|
|Does not require a photo on identity documents (List B)||Requires a photo on identity documents (List B)|
|Must be used to reverify expired employment authorization||MAY NOT be used to reverify expired employment authorization|
*If an individual has not yet been issued a Social Security Account number, the employer may contact E-Verify for further guidance.
JG: It is very common for companies to hire employees in multiple states. Should the I-9 forms be kept at their locations or at the corporate office?
SA: Only the pages of the Form I-9 on which the employer or employee enter data must be retained. The employer may retain completed paper forms on-site or at an off-site storage facility for the required retention period, as long as the employer is able to present the Forms I-9 within three days of an inspection request from a DHS, OSC, or DOL officer. The storage location can be any location determined by the employer as long as the forms can be presented as stated above.
JG: Is it ok to store the Form I-9 in an employee personnel file, or should it be stored in a separate file?
SA: USCIS recommends that employers keep Forms I-9 separate from personnel records to facilitate an inspection request.
JG: If an employee presents documents from list A, B, and C, can we use them all for the I-9? Is there such a thing as too much documentation?
SA: No, you may not use all 3 documents to complete the Form I-9. There is such thing as “over documentation.” An employer may only accept 1 document from List A, or 1 document from both List B and List C. If an employee presents too many or too few documents, refer the employee to the Lists of Acceptable Documents so that the employee can select which documentation to present. Do not complete Section 2 with more or fewer documents than needed.
For even more I-9 information, be sure to download the webinar recording on common I-9 errors.
Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.