Legally hiring employees to work in the United States requires employers to jump through a number of hoops. One of those hoops is the I-9 form. The following is a brief overview of this form and how it is used.

What is the I-9?

The I-9 form, also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification form, is required by the US Government for every employee hired. Its purpose is twofold:

  1. To verify the identity of the employee
  2. To verify that the employee is authorized to work in the United States.

What Information Does the I-9 Require?

Whether on paper or online, form I-9 has three sections:

Section 1—Employee Section

In this section, employees provide information about their identity, including the following:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number, if applicable
  • Email address (optional)
  • Phone number (optional)
  • Citizenship status

Employees have four choices for citizenship status. Employees must attest, under penalty of perjury, that their status is one of the following:

  1. Citizen of the US
  2. Noncitizen national of the US
  3. Lawful permanent resident
  4. Alien authorized to work

A signature and a date complete the form for the employee. This portion of the I-9 must be completed before the end of the first day on the job.

Section 2—Employer Review

This section must be completed prior to completion of the employee’s third day of work. It includes three subsections.

Subsection 1: The employer enters the name and citizenship status of the employee from section 1.

Subsection 2: Employers review the documentation provided by the employee that verify their identity and citizenship status. Lists of acceptable documents can be found in the form or online.

Subsection 3: The employer certifies the form. An authorized representative for your business provides their information, reviews the documentation, certifies that they are genuine and that they relate to the employee named, and confirms that the employee is authorized to work in the US. Good faith efforts are the focus here, though more and more employers are choosing to add E-Verify to their I-9 certification checklist.

Section 3 – Employer Reverification and Rehires

This section does not apply to new hires. Employers are asked to fill out section 3 in the following circumstances:

  • When an employee’s authorization to work in the US expires.
  • If a terminated employee is rehired and their original documents have expired.
  • When an employee changes their name.

Best Practices

Violations are steep, so it’s important to comply. Create an I-9 policy that addresses all aspects of the I-9 process, including storage and disposal of all completed forms. Employment authorization is a basic requirement for working in the US; the I-9 form is proof of compliance.