Requirements for the I-9: Employment Eligibility Verification Form

Penalties Can Apply if You Overlook Details

Every new employee must demonstrate eligibility to work in the US by filling out the I-9 form.
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Eligibility Form I-9 is required by the Immigration Reform Act, verifying the identity of an employee and their eligibility to work legally in the US. If an employer misses any steps or forgets to include the proper documents, they are at risk for fine with possible and quite serious legal complications, which is why it is so important to verify every aspect of an employees I-9.

List A—Documents that Establish Both Identity and Employment Eligibility

On the I-9, there is a required list of documentation to prove identity. These documents establish identity and eligibility to work in the U.S. and are considered acceptable proof of both.

  • U.S. Passport (unexpired or expired)
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Forms N-560 or N-561)
  • Certificate of Naturalization (Forms N-550 or N-570)
  • Unexpired foreign passport with an attached Form I-94 indicating unexpired employment authorization
  • Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card with photograph (Form I-551)
  • Unexpired Temporary Resident Card (Form I-688)
  • Unexpired Employment Authorization Card (Form I-688A)
  • Unexpired Reentry Permit (Form I-327)
  • Unexpired Refugee Travel Document (Form 1-571)
  • Unexpired Employment Authorization Document issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that contains a photograph (Form I-688B)

List B—Documents that Establish Identity

In the absence of any of the above documents, an employee would have to present two others, one for proof of identity and the other for proof of employment eligibility. The following documents can be used to establish an employee's identity:

  • Driver's license or ID card issued by a state or outlying possession of the United States, 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 card with a photograph
  • Voter's registration card
  • U.S. Military card or draft record
  • Military dependent's ID card
  • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card
  • Native American tribal document
  • Driver's license issued by a Canadian government authority

List C—Documents that Establish Employment Eligibility

One of these documents must be presented in addition to a document from List B if an employee is unable to provide a document from List A.

  • U.S. Social Security Card issued by the Social Security Administration, other than a card stating that it is not valid for employment
  • Certification of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545 or Form DS-1350)
  • Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a state, county, municipal authority, or outlying possession of the United States bearing an official seal
  • Native American tribal document.
  • U.S. Citizen ID Card (Form I-197)
  • ID Card for use of a Resident Citizen in the United States (Form I-179)
  • Unexpired employment authorization document issued by DHS other than those listed under List A

Special List for Persons Who Are Minors 

Employees who are younger than age 18 and who are therefore unable to present any of the above documents can provide age-appropriate documents instead, including:  

  • School record or report card
  • Clinic, doctor, or hospital record
  • Day care or nursery school record

Additional Form I-9 Employer Responsibilities

Make sure the I-9 forms are filled out correctly and that you and your employee follow the directions exactly. You must keep each employee's I-9 form on file for at least three years or for one year after employment ends, whichever is longer.

Keep and make copies of the original documents supplied by your employees. This isn't required but it's advised. Keep only the minimum number of documents required and store the forms and document photocopies separate from your employee files.

If any changes are made to the I-9 file document, change them on the original form and initial and date the changes. Don't fill out a new form. Reverify expiring work authorizations and don't allow employees to work if their documentation has expired.

Be sure to respond according to timing instructions and guidelines if you receive a Social Security Administration no-match letter that indicates a certain number of your employees have unverifiable Social Security numbers.

Obtain current I-9 form information at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Additional information is available from the Society for Human Resources Management.

Legal Requirements 

The I-9 Form must be completed for each new employee regardless of her national origin or whether the employee is a U.S. citizen. An employer has violated federal immigration law if he fails to verify the identity and employment authorization of a new employee by with a I-9 Form. Penalties vary substantially and are based on a tier system, but can reach as high as almost $20,000. Penalties increase starting from from $548 for knowingly continuing to employ individuals who do not submit I-9 forms with the proper verification.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. The site is read by a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and from country to country. Please seek legal assistance or assistance from state, federal, or international governmental resources to make sure your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location.