The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was created to prevent undocumented immigrants from being employed in the United States. From that act, Form I-9 is used by employers to verify each new hire’s identity and authorization to work in the US. In 1996, E-Verify was developed through the Department of Homeland Security. This website helps businesses determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the US. It is important for businesses to know that E-Verify should not be used in place of Form I-9. In fact, except for government contractors and a few other exceptions, participation in the E-Verify system is voluntary.
At the time of hire, employers must complete Form I-9 for each employee. Instructions on the form allow presentation of any documents from the List of Acceptable Documents. This can be one document from List A, which will establish both identity and employment authorization, (such as a US passport or permanent resident card). If the employee does not have a document from List A, they are able to present one document from List B to establish identity (such as a driver’s license or US military card) and one document from List C to establish employment authorization (such as a Social Security card or US Citizen ID card). As long as the documents appear to be genuine and relate to the person presenting them, employers are required to accept them. Employers are not permitted to request any further documentation or different documents than those that have been established, nor can they reject documents that appear genuine based on the citizenship status or national origin of the employee. Click here to see the full list of acceptable documents.
As the employer, you can make copies of the documents presented by an employee, however, keeping copies of the documents for your records does not take the place of having a properly completed I-9 on file. If you decide to make copies of the documents you must do that for each and every employee hired. Not doing so could put you in violation of anti-discrimination laws.
Section 1 of Form I-9 must be completed in its entirety by employees on the first day of employment. This section may be completed before this date, but only after the new hire has accepted an offer of employment. Section 2 of Form I-9 must be completed by employers within three days of an employee’s date of hire. This section requires a physical examination of the documents presented by an employee that establishes their identity and employment authorization. Again, employers should not specify which documents they’d prefer from the Lists of Acceptable Documents, as it would be a violation of the form’s rules. Employers may reserve the right to reject a document if it does not appear to be genuine or relate to the employee.
Employers enrolled in E-Verify have chosen to take the added step of electronically ensuring a match between information provided on Form I-9 and government records. It does not take the place of Form I-9. Should an employer choose to use E-Verify, federal law requires they follow the rules of both Form I-9 and E-Verify. Form I-9 does not require employees provide their Social Security numbers, but if an employer is using E-Verify, Social Security numbers are required. E-Verify also requires that a photo ID be presented, while that may not be the case for Form I-9 depending on the documents that the employee chooses to present.
Many employers choose to add E-Verify to the employment eligibility verification process in order to gain peace of mind that they are maintaining a legal workforce. Once an employer obtains a report that deems an employee is “verified” to work, the report is attached to the employee’s Form I-9 or the case verification number is reported on the form. The employer then closes the case and the E-Verify process is completed.
Remember that Form I-9 is required and mandatory for each employee hired. E-Verify does not replace the I-9 but can be used as an additional tool to aid employers in confirming that their employees are eligible to work in the US. If you have any questions on this reporting, we are happy to help.