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Form I-9- What Is It and Is It Mandatory?

Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States and is required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Simply put, the purpose of the I-9 is to confirm that an employee is authorized to work legally in the U.S.

All employers must complete Form I-9 for everyone that they hire to work at a U.S. establishment. Employees are also required to fill out the form as part of the verification process. Employees provide employers with approved documentation that confirms both their identity and employment eligibility.

The USCIS lists three different types of approved documents that employees must provide to the employer to verify their identity and legal authorization to work in the U.S. These documents must be provided immediately after being hired and are split into three categories- A, B, & C.

Category A– Includes documentation that verifies an employee’s identity and legal work authorization. This includes but not limited to:

  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Employment Authorization document issued by USCIS
  • A U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card

An employee that provides anything that falls under Category A is not required to provide any additional documentation.

Category B- Includes documentation that only verifies an employee’s identity. Examples include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Voter Registration card
  • U.S. Military card

Category C- Includes documentation that only verifies an employee’s legal authorization to work. Examples include:

  • U.S. Social Security account number and card
  • U.S. Issued Birth Certificate
  • Native American Tribal document

If an employee does not provide documentation from Category A they must provide examples from categories B & C together.

Form I-9 is entirely separate from E-Verify. Key differences between the two include:

  • Form I-9 is mandatory for all employers while E-Verify is voluntary for most.
  • Form I-9 doesn’t require a Social Security number or photo on identification documents while E-Verify does.
  • Form I-9 is the only one that can verify expired employment authorization

Employers can verify Form I-9 remotely now. In response to the ongoing pandemic, the federal government deferred its deadline for in-person verification. Many employers were able to turn to online-based HR platforms that allow them to submit and certify approved documentation.

In these cases, USCIS uses E-Verify to remotely confirm employee eligibility for work in the U.S. as E-Verify can use the information provided on the submitted Form I-9 with records available to both the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

However, any verification that is completed remotely due to the pandemic or otherwise still needs to be verified in-person at some point.

As the pandemic continues, organizations are encouraged to stay up-to-date with any federally-mandated compliance regulations.

Is there anything Payroll Systems can help you with as you accommodate rapid legislation changes? Reach out and talk to us about the easy-to-scale solutions you need for your business.

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This article provides general information and shouldn’t be construed as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws may change over time and can vary by location and industry, please consult a lawyer or HR expert for advice specific to your business. You can also contact Payroll Systems to inquire about our HR support services.