What Is Form I-9?

Form I-9 Explained

Young businesswoman in job interview
•••

 Stuart O'Sullivan / Getty Images

Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the U.S.

Learn more about the purpose of Form I-9, its purpose, and who needs to fill it out.

What Is Form I-9?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires that all employers and new hires complete Form I-9 to confirm that they are authorized to work in the U.S. The employee swears to the validity of the information by providing documents, and the employer confirms by reviewing the employee's documents.

Page 1 of Form I-9
Page 2 of Form I-9

Who Uses Form I-9?

All U.S. employers and their prospective hires, including both citizens and noncitizens, must complete Form I-9. If the employee needs a translator or preparer, they may have one fill out the form on their behalf, as long as it's indicated that one was used.

Where to Get Form I-9

A copy of Form I-9 can be access on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. They offer a version that can be filled out electronically and a paper version that must be printed for completion.

Employers and employees in Puerto Rico may complete a Spanish version of Form I-9; all others must complete the English version.

What to Do If You Don't Receive Form I-9

As an employer, you are responsible for going to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to obtain a copy of the Form I-9; it won't be automatically sent to you. As an employee, your employer should provide you with Form I-9 during your onboarding process. If you're not provided with Form I-9, please alert your employer, as it's mandatory to have completed before beginning to work.

How to Fill Out and Read Form I-9

Form I-9 contains two parts: Section 1 is to be completed by the employee, and section 2 is to be completed by the employer. Outside of basic information—such as name, address, telephone number, and Social Security number—the employee must certify that they're one of the following:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • A noncitizen national of the U.S.
  • A lawful permanent resident (including Alien # or USCIS #)
  • An alien authorized to work (including Alien # or Admission #)

In Section 2, the employer should confirm the employee's information and ask for documents that verify the employee's identity and employment eligibility. The following is a list of acceptable documents:

List A List B List C
U.S. Passport or Passport Card Driver's license or ID card A Social Security account number
Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551) School ID with photo Birth certificate
Foreign passport that contains a temporary I-551 stamp or temporary I-551 printed notation on a machine-readable immigrant visa Voter's registration card Native American tribal document
Employment Authorization Document that contains a photograph (Form I-766) U.S. military card or draft record U.S. Citizen ID Card (Form I-197)
Foreign Passport Clinic, doctor, or hospital record Identification Card for Use of Resident Citizen in the United States (Form I-179)
Passport from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) or the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) with Form I-94 or Form I-94A indicating nonimmigrant admission School record or report card Employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security

Employees may present one selection from List A or a combination of one selection from List B and one selection from List C. It is illegal to discriminate against work-authorized individuals. Employers can't specify which document(s) they will accept from an employee. The refusal to hire an individual because the documents have a future expiration date may also constitute illegal discrimination.

Can Form I-9 be E-Filed?

Employers can use E-Verify, a web-based system, to confirm their employees' eligibility to work in the U.S.

Where to Mail Form I-9

You don't mail Form I-9. Instead, employers must:

  • Have the completed form on file for each employee who is required to complete the form.
  • Store the forms for three years after the hire date, or for one year post-employment, whichever is later.
  • Keep the forms available for inspection if ever requested by the U.S. government.

How to File Form I-9

Form I-9 is not filed anywhere. It must be kept in the employer's possession in case a U.S. government official requests to see it.

Key Takeaways

  • Form I-9 must be completed by every employer and employee in the U.S.
  • Form I-9 is used to verify a worker's authorization to work in the U.S.
  • Employers don't file Form I-9; instead, they keep it on their records in case a U.S. government official requests it.

Article Sources

  1. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. "I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification." Accessed Sept. 4, 2020.

  2. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. "USCIS Form I-9," Page 3. Accessed Sept. 4, 2020.

  3. Department of Homeland Security. "E-Verify." Accessed Sept. 4, 2020.