U.S. employers are required by law to complete Form I-9 when verifying the employment authorization of all workers they hire on or after November 6, 1986, for employment in the United States, regardless of the workers’ immigration status. Part of the process is the examination of documents presented by employees to establish their identity and to prove that they are authorized to work. The employer must physically examine the original documents (not a photocopy).
Employers are understandably concerned about making mistakes while completing Form I-9. According to a Customer Guide posted on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, an employer is not required to know with absolute certainty whether a document establishing identity and work eligibility is genuine or false. After examining the original document, employers must, however, make a good-faith determination that the document:
- Appears to relate to the employee;
- Appears to be genuine; and
- Is included in the Lists of Acceptable Documents on Form I-9.
There is an additional concern on the part of employers about making decisions that could amount to illegal employment discrimination. The USCIS guide warns that “rejecting a document that later proves to be
genuine could result in a violation of the anti-discrimination provisions of immigration law, so employers should guard against being overzealous in their inspection of documents the employee presents.”
Employers can request a free E-Verify and Form I-9 HR Toolkit from the Tracker I-9™ website.
Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only. Information provided through this website should never replace the need for involving informed counsel on your employment and immigration issues.