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I-9 Checklist

Compliance with Form I-9 requirements can be challenging and penalties for non-compliance are stiff. Using this checklist each time a form is completed, can help.

Section 1. Employee Information and Verification:

  • Complete after the employee is hired, but before work commences.
  • Give the employee a Form I-9 (all pages including instructions).
  • All fields must be properly completed, including citizenship attestation.
  • A Lawful Permanent Resident must provide an 8- or 9-digit Alien Number.
  • An Alien Authorized to Work must provide the date work authorization expires and an Alien number or an 11-digit Admission number from the Form I-94.
  • Form must be signed and dated or it is not valid.
  • If the employee receives assistance in completing the form or needs a translator, that person must fill out the block marked “Preparer/Translator Certification.” The employee must sign the form.
  • Note employers and employees in Puerto Rico ONLY may fill out the Spanish version of Form I-9. Spanish-speaking employers and employees in the 50 states and other U.S. territories may print this for their reference, but may only complete the form in English to meet employment eligibility verification requirements.

Section 2. Employer Review and Verification:

To be completed no later than the employee’s third workday by the employer

  • After Section 1 is complete, ask the employee to provide acceptable documents verifying identity and employment eligibility.
  • Provide the employee with a list the list of acceptable documents as on the back of the current I-9 form. Let the employee choose the documents; do not request specific documents. It is a good idea to post the acceptable document list where I-9 forms will be completed and to include it in offer letters. Employees may present any List A document or one from List B and one from List C.
  • Accept only original documents. Do not accept more documents than are needed.
    Review the documents and if they appear legitimate record the document type, number and expiration date. Photocopies are allowed, but are not required. Be consistent and follow the same practice for all new hires. If the documents are copied, they need to be retained with the I-9 form. If in doubt about the validity of the documents, contact legal counsel or HR.
  • Do NOT accept expired documents.
  • Review the section for completeness. Be sure that the first day of employment is entered.
  • The person who examined the documents must sign and date the form.
  • If the employee does not provide acceptable documents by the third workday, employment should not continue.
  • If the employee has a “delay” letter/receipt saying he/she has applied for the document(s), the receipt authorizes employment for 90 days from the date it is accepted. Most official delay letters are acceptable. Use the information on the letter to complete the I-9. If in doubt, contact legal counsel.

Section 3. Updating and Reverification:

Only use this section when the employee’s work authorization has changed or has a new expiration date. This applies to work authorization documents and not to List B identity documents. Also reverification of eligibility of persons who present a U.S. Passport or Permanent Resident or Alien Registration Card (Form I-551) is not required. Although the document may expire, the right to work does not.

  • Ask the employee to produce a new employment eligibility document of his or her choosing and follow same procedure as Section 2.

Retention of Completed I-9:

  • Employers do not file the I-9 with the federal government. Rather, an employer is required to keep an I-9 form on file for three years after the date of hire AND one year after the date the employee's employment is terminated. Both parts of the test must be met. In effect this means that you have to have an I-9 for all employees hired after Nov. 6, 1986 who are current employees or who terminated in the last year. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency conducts routine workplace audits to ensure that employers are properly completing and retaining I-9 forms, and that employee information on I-9 forms matches government records.
  • Federal I-9 forms should be kept separate from employee personnel files. These should never be co-mingled with the other employee records because they contain information on citizenship, race, color, age and national ancestry that can be used for illegal discrimination.
  • Develop a system such as a tickler file for I-9 forms that contain employment authorization expiration dates and require reverifaction.
  • Conduct periodic self-audits to ensure that your forms are in order.