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How to Complete Form I-9

Q. As an employer, which business name should I enter on Form I-9: the legal name or the DBA name?

    A. Employers must record the business name on Form I-9. USCIS recommends that the employer use the company’s legal name, and if there is a DBA (Doing Business As), write it on the form as well.  The employer should enter the same names on all Forms I-9. Employers who use E-Verify may enter both the legal business name and the DBA in the system. 

Q.  Can there be any additional writing on a completed I-9 form? For example, for filing purposes, can the employee’s name be written on the side of form for ease of filing?

     A.  Employers must ensure that the information on stored Forms I-9 is legible. Any additional writing printed on Form I-9 outside of the required information must not interfere with an authorized government official’s ability to read the information on the form.

Q.  Have P.O. Boxes always been unacceptable as addresses for Form I-9?

     A.  Yes. Every version of the Form I-9 has specified in both Sections 1 and 2 that the Address fields require Street Name and Number. The Address sections should contain the actual location of the employee’s residence and the actual location in which the employer employs the employee. In the event the employee lives or works in an area that does not have house numbers and street names, the Address sections should contain a narrative description of the location.

Q.  How does a preparer document that he helped correct a mistake on my employee’s Form I-9?

     A.  A preparer and/or translator can help employees who need assistance to correct Section 1. The preparer and/or translator should:

  • Make the correction or help the employee make the correction by drawing a line through the incorrect information and entering the correct information
  • Have the employee initial and date the correction
  • Initial and date the correction next to the employee’s initials

If the preparer and/or translator who helps with the correction completed the preparer and/or translator certification block when the employee initially completed Form I-9, he or she should not complete the certification block again. If the preparer and/or translator did not previously complete the preparer and/or translator certification block, he or she should:

  • Complete the certification block; or
  • If the certification block was previously completed by a different preparer and/or translator, enter the new preparer and/or translator information in the margin.

Q.  My company uses a notary to complete Section 2 of Form I-9 when an H.R. person or internal employee is not located in the area in which the new employee will work. What is the best way to make a correction if the notary makes a mistake on an employee’s form?

     A.  The notary acts as an agent of the employer. Therefore, either the notary or the employer may make corrections to Forms I-9 as needed. To make corrections, you or the notary may line through the incorrect information, enter the correct information, and initial and date the change.

Q.  My employee wants to know what “under penalty of perjury” means. Please help.

     A.  When an employee attests to his or her citizenship or immigration status “under penalty of perjury” and signs and dates Section 1 of Form I-9, the employee states that the information he or she has provided is true. The consequences for perjury may include fines and/or imprisonment.

Q.  May employees use a P.O. Box as their address in Section 1?

     A.  No, employees may not use P.O. Boxes as their address on Form I-9. Employees must enter the physical address of their residence in Section 1 (e.g., "1234 Verification Street"). If the employee's residence does not have a physical address, he or she should enter a description of the location of his or her residence. The following is an example of an acceptable description: "18 miles southwest of Anytown post office near water tower".

Q.  Does Form I-9 need to be completed in a specific color of ink?

     A.  No. Form I-9 does not need to be completed in a specific color of ink. However, the information written on the form must be readable for the entire retention period of the form.

Q.  Can an employer prefill (fill in advance) Section 2 with the business or organization name, address and position of the company representative?

     A.  Yes. Employers may prefill the “Print Name,” “Title” and “Business or Organization Name and Address” blocks of Section 2 of Form I-9.

Q.  Can an employer include Form I-9 in a job application packet?

     A.  No. An employer cannot require an employee to complete Form I-9 before the employee has accepted a job offer. However, the employer can inform applicants that upon hire they must complete Form I-9.

Q.  Can a notary public attach an attestation to Form I-9 instead of providing a signature in the signature block of Section 2?

     A. No. Section 2 is a review of the documents the employee presents and must be signed. If that section is not signed, Form I-9 is not complete.

Q.   May a minor act as a preparer or translator for an employee completing Form I-9?

     A.  Although the regulations do not expressly prohibit a minor from acting as a preparer/translator for Form I-9, USCIS recommends that employers use their discretion in determining if the minor is old enough to understand the legal ramifications of signing the Preparer/Translator Certification.

Q.  Who is responsible for verifying a new employee: the staffing agency or the business to which the worker is assigned? If the business hires the worker permanently, does the business verify the worker at that time? What date should the staffing agency enter in the Hire Date field in Section 2?

     A.  The entity responsible for verifying a new worker is the entity that is responsible for completing Form I-9 for that worker. The Form I-9 requirement is triggered when a person or entity hires an individual for employment in the United States. A “hire” takes place when employment begins in exchange for wages or other remuneration. Therefore, if the new worker is an employee of the staffing agency such that it is on the staffing agency’s payroll receiving paychecks from the staffing agency, the staffing agency is responsible for completing and retaining Form I-9. If the new worker is an employee of the business such that it is on the business’s payroll receiving paychecks from the business, the business is responsible for completing and retaining Form I-9. If the worker is an employee of the staffing agency, and the business to which the staffing agency has supplied the worker decides to hire that worker and pay the worker directly, the employee would be a new hire of that business, and the business would become responsible for completing a new Form I-9 for that worker from the date of hire.

In the case of a staffing agency, acceptance of an offer and entry into the assignment pool can be considered equivalent to an offer and acceptance of employment, after which Form I-9 may be completed. The agency does not need to delay the verification until the worker actually has accepted a particular assignment. The date the staffing agency should put in Section 2 “Certification” of Form I-9 is the date of acceptance of an offer and entry into the assignment pool.

Q.  A foreign national with a B-1 visa is on a three-month training/internship assignment in the United States as part of an apprenticeship/internship with our company. Our company provides the individual with money for meals and gas for him to drive from his apartment to our plant until he completes his internship.  Must we complete Form I-9 for this individual?

     A.  A B-1 visa holder is allowed to receive nominal expenses during eligible B-1 activity, such as the training you have described. Because B-1 activity is not considered employment, a Form I-9 is not required for such activity.

Q.  Should I complete the Preparer/Translator section if the company automatically fills out Section 1 for the new employee?

     A.  Yes, if Section 1 is prepared by someone other than the new employee, the Preparer/Translator section should be completed. 

Q.  My employee added the words "signed under duress," and the abbreviation A.R.R. (authorized representative) after the employee signature on Form I-9, claiming that he is a member of a tribe that is not currently federally recognized. May I accept these additions?

     A.  If your employee signed their Form I-9, you may accept their additions.  We recommend you attach a note to your employee’s Form I-9 explaining the situation along with the abbreviations. Please be sure to sign and date the notation. 

Q.  May I accept copies of Forms I-9 that have been faxed to me?

     A.  A faxed copy is not a valid document.  If the company completes and retains Forms I-9 in paper format only, the company must retain original Forms I-9 with original handwritten signatures for three years after the date of hire or one year after the date the individual’s employment is terminated, whichever is later. If the employer using a paper-only storage system has destroyed original Forms I-9 with original handwritten signatures, the employer and employee should go through the Form I-9 process again: The employee will need to complete and sign Section 1 of a new Form I-9 and the employer will need to view acceptable documents the employee presents and sign Section 2. The employer would then attach the faxed copy of the destroyed I-9 to the new one, with a notation about what happened to the original.

Q.  A Department of Defense security bulletin states that it is prohibited to make copies of military IDs. I need to make copies for Form I-9 purposes. What should I do?

     A. The employer may make a photocopy of the military ID card for Form I-9 purposes. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act governing the Form I-9 process, the copying of documentation is permitted.  Specifically, this provision states:  “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the person or entity may copy a document presented by an individual pursuant to this subsection and may retain the copy, but only (except as otherwise permitted under law) for the purpose of complying with the requirements of this subsection.”  Furthermore, the prohibition against the copying of military IDs in Title 18 U.S. Code Part 1, Chapter 33, Section 701 referenced by the question does not apply if “authorized by regulations made pursuant to law.”

Q . Am I required to enter my employee’s e-mail address in E-Verify?

    A. Yes. When the employee provides an email address on Form I-9, you are required to enter it into E Verify. E-Verify may send the employee email notifications with information about his or her E-Verify case, including notifications on TNCs.

Q. My employee did not enter an e-mail address on Form I-9. What should I do?

    A. The employee is not required to enter an e-mail address and, thus, employers are not required to enter an employee’s e-mail address into E-Verify.

Q. My employee is concerned for his privacy. What is the purpose of entering his e-mail address in E-Verify?

    A. E-Verify respects the privacy of both employers and employees. The purpose of entering the employee’s e-mail address is to provide an additional way to notify the employee of case events related to the information entered into E-Verify.

Q. Since E-Verify notifies employees of Tentative Nonconfirmations by e-mail, do I still have to notify my employee in person?

    A.  Yes. The e-mail notification feature does not replace the current TNC process that requires employers to notify employees of TNCs and their right to contest the TNC.  The TNC email sent to employees will instruct the employee to contact the employer to obtain more information about the TNC.

Q. My employee just received a notification from E-Verify after he received a TNC case result in E-Verify. Does he need to reply to the e-mail?

    A. No, the employee should not reply to the e-mail. The e-mails your employee may receive due to an E-Verify case result are only notifications that contain instructions so that the employee may resolve the case. 

Last Reviewed/Updated: 07/01/2013