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Completion & Retention of I-9 Form

What Employers Need to Know About the I-9 Form

All employers in the United States, regardless of size, must verify and document that all of their employees, including U.S. citizens, are eligible to work using Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Employees should only complete the I-9 and present documentation of their eligibility to work after they are offered the job. The I-9, however, must be completed within three business days of the date employment begins.

There are three lists of acceptable documents found on Page 2 of the I-9. Employees may present either one document from List A OR one document from List B AND one document from List C. Employees decide which document(s) to present. An employer cannot require an employee to present more or different documents than required. In addition, an employer cannot refuse to accept a document which on its face reasonably appears genuine and which relates to the person who presented it. If an employer is found to have requested more or different documents than an employee has chosen to present from List A or Lists B and C, they may be fined $110 – $1,100 for each individual determined to have suffered such document abuse.

Although the law does not require an employer to retain copies of the documentation which was verified, it may be a good idea to do so. However, if an employer retains copies for one I-9, it must retain copies for all I-9s.

Employers also have a duty to update the I-9. If an employee’s work authorization expires, the employee must present evidence that the authorization has been extended prior to expiration. Employers should keep a tickler system to remind them of expiration dates.

Retention of Form I-9

A Form I-9 must be retained for three years after the date of hire or one year after the employment ends, whichever is later. Forms I-9 are subject to audit and must be made available for inspection by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Department of Labor or the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for USCIS, upon request. By law, an employer must be given a three-day written notice of the inspection.