1.0 Why Employers Must Verify Employment Authorization and Identity of New Employees
In 1986, Congress reformed U.S. immigration laws to preserve the tradition of legal immigration while seeking to close the door to unlawful entry. The employer sanctions provisions, found in section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), were added by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). These provisions further changed with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1990 and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996.
Employment is often the magnet that attracts people to reside in the United States unlawfully. The purpose of the employer sanctions law is to remove this magnet by requiring employers to hire only individuals who may legally work here: U.S. citizens, noncitizen nationals, lawful permanent residents, and other noncitizens who are authorized to work. To comply with the law, employers must:
- Verify the identity and employment authorization of each person they hire;
- Complete and retain a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for each employee; and
- Refrain from discriminating against individuals on the basis of national origin, citizenship or immigration status.
At the same time that it created employer sanctions, Congress also prohibited employment discrimination based on citizenship, immigration status, and national origin. This part of the law is referred to as the anti-discrimination provisions. See Section 11.0, Unlawful Discrimination and Penalties for Prohibited Practices, for more information on unlawful discrimination.
The guidance in this handbook, in tandem with the Form I-9 instructions, helps employers properly complete Form I-9, which assists in verifying that your employees are authorized to work in the United States. You must complete a Form I-9 for every new employee you hire after Nov. 6, 1986, as well as new employees hired in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) on or after Nov. 28, 2009. This includes U.S. citizens and noncitizen nationals who are automatically eligible for employment in the United States.
You must use the current version of Form I-9, which you can download along with the instructions from the USCIS website at uscis.gov/i-9-central. You may also order paper forms at uscis.gov/forms/forms-by-mail or by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY: 800-767-1833).
The form consists of five parts:
- Section 1: Employee Information and Attestation: Employees must complete and sign this section. See Section 3.0 of this handbook for more information.
- Section 2: Employer Review and Verification: Employers or their authorized representative(s) must complete this section. See Section 4.0 of this handbook for more information.
- Lists of Acceptable Documents: Employers must ensure every employee completing Form I-9 has access to this list. Employers are not required to store this page.
- Supplement A, Preparer and/or Translator Certification for Section 1: Any person who helps the employee complete Form I-9 must complete the blocks in this supplement. See Section 3.0 of this handbook for more information. If the employee does not require assistance, employers need not print this page.
- Supplement B, Reverification and Rehire (formerly Section 3): Employers or their authorized representative(s) complete the blocks of this supplement when an employee requires reverification, or is rehired and the employer chooses not to complete a new Form I-9. Employers only need to print this page for an employee when reverification or rehire applies. See Section 6.0 of this handbook for more information.
Form I-9 is available in English and Spanish. Employers in the United States, except Puerto Rico, must complete the English-language version of Form I-9. Only employers located in Puerto Rico may complete the Spanish-language version of Form I-9 instead of the English-language version. Any employer may use the Spanish-language form and instructions as a translation tool for Spanish-speaking employees, when completing the English-language version.