Form I-9 is a critical step in the hiring process. Employers hiring new workers must have each new employee complete the I-9 to verify the employee’s eligibility to work in the United States. Likewise, recruiters who place employees must also have new employees complete Form I-9 as if they were the employer.
New employees must complete Section 1 of Form I-9 within three business days of the date they are hired (the day they begin work for pay). Employers must complete Section 2 within three business days of the employee’s hire date and submit the I-9 to E-Verify. For example, if Mary’s hire date is Monday, 1/1/23, the employer has until Thursday, 1/4/23, to submit the completed I-9.
Form I-9 can be completed with a paper form or the new I-9 smart form (E-Verify). A properly vetted and completed I-9 Form allows employers to prove they are compliant. Conversely, non-compliance can lead to significant fines.
Employers that use the paper form will need to scan it for storage once the employee and employer have completed all fields.
Employers that use the smart form still have to print the completed form for signatures and scan it for storage. When the employee chooses 1) U.S. citizen, 2) lawful permanent resident, or 3) alien authorized to work, the smart form updates the fields by altering the remaining questions to fit the chosen option. In cases where more than one translator or preparer assists the employee, the form will ask how many and provide the necessary number of fields.
Employee eligibility verification is set forth by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). DHS has a principal role in supervising immigration benefits. USCIS is responsible for the management of immigration benefits.
Form I-9 proves new employees are legally authorized to work under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). DHS, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of Justice enforce federal law.
Under IRCA, only U.S. citizens and noncitizen nationals whose immigration status includes work authority may be hired. New hires who are not permanently authorized to work may apply for an Employment Authorization Document using Form I-766. Federal law places responsibility on employers to complete employment verification checks.