How to Verify Employment Eligibility - Form I-9 and E-Verify

What is Form I-9? What is the E-Verify System? 


Form I-9 is used to provide documentation that a newly hired employee is authorized to work in the U.S. This documentation should be completed at hire, so that it is available for any US Customs and Immigration (USCIS) official to see.

All new hires must fill out Form I-9 and provide appropriate documentation of (1) identity and (2) employment eligibility. Employment verification is administered by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The E-Verify system is a way for larger employers to verify employment eligibility, but any employer may use this system. 

Learn more about how to complete Form I-9 and use the E-Verify system, the penalties for non-compliance, and the issue of discrimination.

Why Must I Verify Employment Eligibility? (What's the Law?)

Although there have been several immigration laws affecting employment in the last 60 years or so, the major law describing the responsibilities of employers was the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. The major provisions of this law:

  • Require employers to document the work eligibility status of all employees
  • Make it illegal to knowingly hire illegal workers, and
  • Prohibit discrimination against any individual who is legally able to work in the U.S. (except for illegal aliens) in the matter of hiring and recruitment.

Read more about the documentation process and the responsibilities of employers and employees.

What is an I-9 Form?

Form I-9 is used to document the work eligibility of new hires. The newest version of Form I-9 (PDF), with expiration date 3/31/2016, must be used for all employment verification beginning May 7, 2013.

The employee completes Section 1 and the employer verifies documents presented by the employee and completes Section 2. Section 3 is available for updates for re-hires.

How to Complete Form I-9 to Verify New Employees

 This article includes step-by-step instructions on how to complete Form I-9 to verify a new employee's work eligibility. You will need to start with making sure you have the most recent form (I'll show you how to check the date on the form). Then, you will have the employee complete the top part, to describe the documents he or she will be using for verification. The last part is for you to verify the documents used.  

What Documents are Acceptable for Employment Verification?

This artlcle lists and describes the documents that can be used to verify employment eligibility. Documents are listed in three columns:

Documents in Column A may be used without additional documentation.

Otherwise, if a document in Column B is used, an additional document in Column C must also be used. If a document in Column C is used, an additional document in Column B must also be used.

Commonly Asked Questions About Form I-9 and Employent Eligibility Verification

Here are a few commonly asked questions about Form I-9 and employment eligibility verification. The article answers questions about independent contractors and self-employed individuals, about what to do if you aren't sure an employee's documents are valid, and what happens if there is a problem with documents.