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Form I-9 helps employers enforce a legal workforce.

What Is Form I-9?

There are a lot of forms to keep track of for your small business. Form I-9 is one of these forms that you must complete and accurately store in your records. Both you and each new employee you hire are required to fill out Form I-9.

What is Form I-9?

Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, confirms that your employees are legally allowed to work in the United States. Before authorizing employment, you and your employee must complete Form I-9. Also, your employees will need to bring personal identification and employment eligibility document(s) for you to review. Use Form I-9 for all employees hired after November 6, 1986.

You must include Form I-9 in your payroll records. The forms must be available for inspection by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer upon request. And, make sure to keep Form I-9 three years after an employee is hired or one year after their employment ends, depending on which is later.

If you use E-Verify, input information from Form I-9 into the system. The E-Verify system is a federal database to double check an employee’s employment authorization.

Form I-9 does not need to be filed with any federal agency. The form is only for your records.

How to fill out Form I-9

There are three sections in the I-9 form. The first two sections of Form I-9 must be filled out when an employee is hired. The third section only needs to be filled out if an employee’s information needs updated.

Section 1

Section 1, Employee Information and Attestation, is filled out by your employee or their preparer and/or translator.

This section includes information like name, address, date of birth, and citizenship. If a preparer or translator fills out Section 1, they must include their information as well.

Employees have the option to provide an email address or phone number. A Social Security number is only required if you use E-Verify at your business.

Your employees are required to fill out Section 1 no later than the first day of their employment, but they cannot fill it out before they accept the job offer.

Section 2

Before you can fill out Section 2, you must complete Section 1 correctly. You must complete Section 2, Employer or Authorized Representative Review and Verification, within three days of the employee’s first day of work.

Your employees have to bring original identification and employment authorization documents to you. You are required to examine the documents and confirm to the best of your knowledge that they are genuine.

Form I-9 lists the documents employees can bring to you. The I-9 acceptable documents are grouped into List A (documents that prove identity and work eligibility), List B (documents that prove identity only), and List C (documents that prove work eligibility only).

Employees can either show one document from List A or one document each from List B and List C. Your employees can choose which documents to bring. However, if you use E-Verify, the List B document must have a photograph of the employee.

Within Section 2 is a certification section that requires your signature, printed name, title, business name, business address, and the date. You fill this out after verifying your employee’s identification document(s) are legitimate.

Section 3

You only need to fill out Section 3, Reverification and Rehires, if information on Form I-9 needs to be updated, a temporary employment authorization expires, or if you’re rehiring a former employee.

If you are rehiring an employee within three years of first filling out Form I-9, you can fill out Section 3 of their original Form I-9. Otherwise, you will need to fill out a new Form I-9.

Make sure you set a reminder to reverify an employee’s employment authorization before the date it expires. If your employee cannot provide a document for the reverification, you cannot employ them.

U.S. citizens and non-citizen nationals do not need to be reverified.

Form I-9 updates

A new I-9 form edition is now available. The previous Form I-9 revision date was on March 8, 2013 and had an expiration date of March 31, 2016, which was extended by the USCIS. However, it will no longer be valid after January 21, 2017.

Do not use previous Form I-9 (revision date: 03/08/13) after January 21, 2017.

The new Form I-9 was updated to accommodate more translators, reduce errors, and make filling out the form easier for employers. You can check out the USCIS for the full list of key changes to Form I-9.

When you hire new employees, make sure you add them to your payroll! Patriot’s online payroll software makes adding new employees easy for you. And, our HR Software add-on is perfect for tracking employees’ employment history and census data. Try it for free today!

This article was updated on 11/23/2016 from its original publish date of 7/30/2010.

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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