Form I-9

What is Form I-9 and How to Stay Compliant with I-9?

Published On
Sep 23, 2020
Read Time
11 Minutes
OnBlick Inc

Every business owner in the US has a never-ending list of things to do in order to keep their business growing. It is not an understatement to say that Form I-9 compliance tops this list of to-do activities. Did you ever think why Form I-9 is so significant that non-compliance or violation of any Form I-9 rule brings you huge penalties?

Let’s explore a little about this two-page document to understand its significance and the ways of staying compliant.

Do you know that Form I-9 completion is not mandatory for your employees who are hired before November of 1986?

What is Form I-9?

Form I-9, also referred as the Employment Eligibility Verification Form is mandated by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. As the name suggests, it is used to verify the identity and legal eligibility to work in the United States. All the employers irrespective of their business size should make sure to complete Form I-9 for every individual they hire after November 6th of 1986.

Many employers believe that completion of Form I-9 is insignificant and tedious when compared to other activities needed for their business growth. But, every employer hiring individuals for pay must properly complete and retain the I-9 form to stay away from penalties.

This article would guide you in understanding Form I-9 completion and would make the process easy for you.

Who Needs to Fill Form I-9 and Who Are Exempt?

Form I-9 should be completed by both the employer and employee. Employees have to confirm their identity and eligibility to work in the US by providing acceptable identification documents. As an employer, you have to verify their documents and sign the form.

Though USCIS mandates every employer to complete Form I-9 for all the employees, there are certain exceptions to this. You should note that according to the USCIS, an “employee” is considered someone who performs work in return for pay or remuneration. You do not need to fill out an I-9 form for:

Form I-9 is not needed for interns, until and unless they are being paid for the work.

When to complete a Form I-9?

Form I-9 is a 2-page document with three sections. Each section comes seeks a different set of information and has a different set of directions.


This section includes the employee information and should be completed by the employee on the first day of employment. Employee should complete all the information and sign the section attesting that it is true.


Employer has to complete this section and physically verify all the supporting documentation presented by the employee. This section should be completed within three business days from the employee’s first day of employment.


This section of the form should be completed by the employer but is not always needed. This part can be completed for name change, renewal of expiring work authorization or rehire within three years of the original date on the Form I-9.

Where to Get an I-9 Form?

As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide the new hire with a copy of the latest version of the I-9 Form. You can download it from the USCIS website.

Retention of Form I-9

Retention of form I-9s is as important as completion of form I-9. Employer should retain the I-9 for at least three years from the date of hire or one year after the employee’s termination, whichever is later.

How To Complete the Form I-9?

As we are clear with basic information of Form I-9, let’s dig a little deeper to get a detailed idea about completion of the form.

Section-1 of the Form I-9

Section-1 includes employee information and the new hire is responsible for completing it on or before the first day of employment. But, one should remember that it shouldn’t be completed before employee accepting the job offer. Employee must complete this section with utmost accuracy to prevent any violations and penalties.

Entering Employee Information:

Last Name (Family Name) – Employee has to enter the full legal last name. If employees have two or hyphenated last names, both names have to be included in this field.

First Name (Given Name)– Employee has to enter the first name. If employee have two or hyphenated first name, both names have to be included in this field. Do not enter middle name here.

Middle Initial – Employee should enter the middle initial which is the first letter of middle name. If the employee does not have a middle name, N/A can be entered in this field.

Other Last Names Used – Employee should enter all other last names used like a maiden name or married name.  Enter N/A if there are no other last names.

Address (Street Name and Number) – Employee should provide current physical street name and number of the residence.

Apartment – Employee should enter the number(s) or letter(s) that identifies the apartment.  If no apartment number/letters, enter N/A.

City or Town – Employee should enter the city, town or village in this field.
Note: City and province can be entered if the employee is a border commuter from Canada; city and state if the employee is a commuter from Mexico.

State – Employee should enter the two letter abbreviation of the state or territory.  If the employee is a border commuter form Canada or Mexico, enter the country abbreviation.

Zip Code – Five-digit ZIP code should be entered here. If the employee is a border commuter form Canada or Mexico enter the five- or six-digit postal code.

Date of Birth –Employee should enter the date of birth in MM/DD/YYYY format.

U.S. Social Security Number – Providing the 9-digit SSN number is voluntary for your employee unless you participate in E-Verify. In case, your employee has applied for an SSN number but hasn’t received it yet, this field can be left blank until the number is received.

Employee’s E-mail Address (optional) – This filed requires employee’s e-mail address. Though this field is optional, it should not be left blank. Employee can enter N/A.

Employee’s Telephone Number (optional) – Employee should enter the telephone number by entering area code and telephone number (000-000-0000).  Though this field is optional, it should not be left blank. Employee can enter N/A.

Attestation to Citizenship or Immigration Status

Employee should select a box to attest their immigration or citizenship status.

1. A citizen of the United States.

2. A noncitizen national of the United States: An individual born in American Samoa, certain former citizens of the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and certain children of noncitizen nationals born abroad.

3. A lawful permanent resident: An individual who is not a U.S. citizen and who resides in the United States under legally recognized and lawfully recorded permanent residence as an immigrant. This term includes conditional residents. Asylees and refugees should not select this status, but should instead select “An Alien Authorized to Work” below.

If  employee is a “lawful permanent resident,” 7- to 9-digit Alien Registration Number (A-Number) should be entered.

4. An alien authorized to work: An individual who is not a citizen or national of the United States, or a lawful permanent resident, but is authorized to work in the United States.

If the employee selects this box, employment authorization expiry date should be entered, if any. Else, N/A can be entered in this field.

What is Form I-9 and How to Stay Compliant with I-9?

Aliens authorized to work should enter one of the following:

1. Alien Registration Number (A-Number)/USCIS Number: Employee should enter the 7- to 9-digit Alien Registration Number (A-Number), including the “A,” or your USCIS Number in this field. Else, enter N/A in this field and enter either a Form I-94 Admission Number, or a Foreign Passport and Country of Issuance in the fields provided.

2. Form I-94 Admission Number: Employee should enter the 11-digit I-94 Admission Number in this field. Else, enter N/A in this field, and enter either an Alien Registration Number/USCIS Number or a Foreign Passport Number and Country of Issuance in the fields provided.

3. Foreign Passport Number and the Country of Issuance: Employee should enter the foreign passport number and name of the country that issued the passport.

Signature: Upon completing these fields employees must sign and date the form, entering the date in Section 1 in MM/DD/YYYY format.

The Preparer and/or Translator Certification

If the employee used a preparer and/or translator to complete the form, the preparer and/or translator must certify that such person helped the employee by completing the Preparer and/or Translator Certification block. If the employee used more than one preparer or translator, they can fill out the I-9 Form Supplement. If the employee did not use a preparer and/or translator, employee can check the box marked “I did not use a preparer or translator.”

Presenting Form I-9 Documents

Within 3 business days of starting work for pay, employee must present documentation that establishes identity and employment authorization. Employee has the right to choose which unexpired document(s) to present from the Lists of Acceptable Documents. As an employer, you cannot specify which document(s) can the employee present from the Lists of Acceptable Documents. Employee may present either one selection from List A or a combination of one selection from List B and one selection from List C.

Section-2 of the Form I-9

As an employer, you are responsible for completing section-2. Before completing Section 2, you should review Section 1 to ensure the employee completed it properly. If you find any errors in Section 1, have the employee make corrections, as necessary and initial and date the corrections.

If your employee is working in a remote location, you may designate an authorized representative to act on your behalf to complete Section 2. An authorized representative can be any person you designate to complete and sign Form I-9 on your behalf.

If an employee is unable to present a required document, employee can present an acceptable receipt in lieu of any acceptable document. Employees must present receipts within three business days from the date of hire and must present valid replacement documents within 90 days.

Once your employee has provided their verification documents, you should review them. Make sure that, they are not expired. Secondly, you should examine all the documents to determine if they appear genuine and are related to the employee presenting them.

What if you hire an employee for less than three days? In that case, section-2 must be completed on the date of employment itself.

Filling out the Section-2

Employer has to complete the section titled, “Employee Info from Section 1” which contains fields employee’s last name, first name, middle initial exactly as he or she entered them in Section 1. This area also includes a Citizenship/ Immigration Status field to enter the number of the citizenship or immigration status checkbox the employee selected in Section 1.

Upon examining the documents and completing employee information, employer should enter the following information from the original documents presented by the employee.

Additional Information: You can use this space to provide any additional information such as:

You may leave this field blank if the employee’s circumstances do not require additional notations.

Once the all information is entered, the employer or authorized representative signs and dates Section 2 in the spaces provided to attest to physically examining the documents the employee presented. You should also enter title, last name, first name, and the employer’s business or organization name, business’s street address, city or town, state and ZIP code.

Section 3 of the I-9 Form

Employer need not need to fill this section for every employee. This should be completed in the following instances:

1. To Re-Verify Employment Authorization for Current Employees

This applies to non-U.S. citizens as re-verification is never required for U.S. citizens and non-citizen nationals. If your employee’s authorization document expires, you would use Section 3 to re-verify their employment authorization with their updated documents. This process has to be completed no later than the date their document expires.

2. To Re-Verify or Update Employment Authorization for Rehired Employees

You have to fill in Section 3 in case you’ve rehired an employee within three years from the date their I-9 form was previously completed. Instead of filling in a completely new I-9, you can simply complete Section 3 of their original one.

In this case, you have to provide the Document Title, Document Number and Expiration Date (if any) of the new work authorization.

3. To Record Name Changes or Other Identity Information for Current Employees

While it is not required that you fill out Section 3 after an employee has had a legal name change (such as after getting married), USCIS does recommend that you keep the I-9 form updated with your employee’s most current information, and thus, fill out Section 3.

The person who completes Section 3 must sign in the signature field along with providing the date and name in the respective fields.

Form I-9 Compliance Tips

Although you follow all the guidelines in completing the form, a single mistake can end up bringing you hefty penalties. Trusting an electronic Form I-9 solution can help you greatly in avoiding manual errors and retaining the documents. So, an increased number of organizations are now relying upon electronic I-9 solutions to ease up the process.

OnBlick can be your I-9 companion. OnBlick isn’t limited to completion and retention of Form I-9s electronically, it is capable of much and more. Maintaining the I-9 audit trail, digital signatures, timely alerts about document expiry, integration with E-Verify web services and much more.

Make OnBlick your compliance partner and ensure I-9 compliance with ease.

Complete, Update and Retain Your Form I-9s Digitally

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