Businesses must make sure all new hires are eligible to work in the U.S. New employees must verify both their identity and their authorization for employment. This verification process includes Form I-9
The employee shows you documents for identity and work eligibility. You as the employer review the documents and attests that they are acceptable. The process of completing Form I-9 is in two steps:
Step 1- The employee completes Section 1, attesting to (confirming with evidence) the documents presented
Step 2 - In Section 2, the employer verifies the documents
This process of submitting and examining documents must be done immediately after hire:
- Section 1 no later than the employee's first day of work
- Section 2 examination within three days of the employee's first day of work.
Acceptable Documents Criteria
The U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) lists documents that are acceptable as verification for identity and work authorization.
Acceptable documents must establish both (1) identity of the individual and (2) employment authorization. There are three lists of documents.
- List A documents are acceptable to identify the worker and also to establish work authorization.
- List B documents are acceptable to identify the worker, and
- List C documents are used to establish work authorization.
You may accept one document from List A because these documents is acceptable to establish both identity and work authorization. If the applicant doesn't have a document in List A, they must give you one document from List B and one document from List C.
The I-9 form does not require an employee to provide a social security number, and it doesn't require a photo on identity (List B) documents.
List A Documents
Documents which establish both identity and eligibility (no additional document needed):
- U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card
- Permanent resident card or alien registration receipt card (a "green card") (Form I-551)
- Foreign passport with Form I-94 or Form I-94A with Arrival/Departure Record, and containing an endorsement to work.
- A foreign passport containing a Form I-551 stamp or Form I-551 printed notation
- Previous permanent resident card with signature
- Permanent resident card with notation, "Signature Waived"
- Employment Authorization Document Card (Form I-766). The USCIS began issuing the current card on May 1, 2017. Some cards issued after May 1, 2017, may still display a previous format. Both formats will remain valid until the expiration date shown on the card.
- In the case of a nonimmigrant alien authorized to work for a specific employer incident to status, a foreign passport with Form I-94 or Form I-94A bearing the same name as the passport and containing an endorsement of the alien's nonimmigrant status, as long as the period of endorsement has not yet expired and the proposed employment is not in conflict with any restrictions or limitations identified on the form
- Passport from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) or the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) with Form I-94 or I-94A.
List B Documents
Documents which establish identity (must be used with a List C document):
- Driver's license or ID card issued by a U.S. state or outlying possession of the U.S. provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address
- ID card issued by federal, state or local government agencies or entities, provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address
- School ID with a photograph
- Voter's registration card
- U.S. Military card or draft record
- Military dependent's ID card
- U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine Card
- Native American tribal document
- Driver's license issued by a Canadian government authority
- For persons under age 18 who are unable to present a document listed above: a school record or report card; clinic, doctor, or hospital record; day care or nursery school record.
List C Documents
Documents which establish employment authorization (must be used with a document from List B):
- Social Security Account Number card that is unrestricted. The card is not acceptable if it has restrictive wording on it:
- NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT
- VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH INS AUTHORIZATION
- VALID FOR WITH ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State (Form FS-240)
- Certification of Birth Abroad issued by the U.S. Department of State (FORM FS-545
- Certification of Report of Birth issued by the Department of State (Form DS-1350)
- Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a state, county, municipal authority, or territory of the U.S. bearing an official seal
- Native American tribal document
- U.S. Citizen ID card (Form I-197)
- Identification Card for Use of Resident Citizen in the U.S. (Form I-179)
Some Things to Check As You Examine Documents
- Make sure the applicant's status as they have listed it in Section I matches the identification documents.
- All documents must be originals, not copies. Copies of documents are not acceptable. If you are unsure if a document is original, look for a watermark or seal.
- You can make copies of documents, but you must return the original document to the employee.
- You must keep documents in a safe place, to protect employee privacy, and you must make copies of documents for all employees, not just for some.
- You may not require certain documents or express a preference for certain documents. All documents in each list are equally acceptable.
- Be sure to enter all of the required information for each document on the I-9 form, even if you keep copies of the documents.
You don't have to send the I-9 form and documents to USCIS. Keep everything in your employee records, so the information is available in case of an audit or inspection.
How to Get I-9 Forms
Before you hire your first employee, be sure you have a supply of I-9 forms on hand. You can use several versions of the form:
- The USCIS has a desktop widget that allows you to complete the I-9 form from your computer's desktop.
- You can use a paper version of the I-9 form. This version is not fillable and must be printed out.
- You may be able to find a paper version of the I-9 form at an office supply store.