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The I-9 Form: Employment Eligibility Verification

What is the I-9 Form?
The I-9 is the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) form that employees and employers complete to establish identity and eligibility to work in the U.S. Employees must complete Section 1 of the form by the end of the first day of employment and the employer must complete Section 2 within three (3) days of the beginning of employment. Employers are subject to civil or criminal penalties under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 if they fail to properly or timely complete the form.

The I-9 form is to be retained by the employer as a basis for determining eligibility for work in the U.S. for three years after the date of hire or one year after the date employment ends, whichever is later. If necessary, the I-9 Form shall be made available for inspection by appropriate federal officials.

 When do I need to complete the I-9 Form?
Every time any person is hired to perform labor or services in return for wages or other remuneration. This requirement applies to everyone hired on or after November 7, 1986.

 When don’t I need to complete the I-9 Form?

  • Persons hired before November 7, 1986, who have been continually employed.
  • Persons employed for casual domestic work in a private home on a sporadic, irregular, or intermittent basis.
  • Persons who are independent contractors.
  • Persons who provide labor to you who are employed by a third party or contractor (e.g. employee leasing).

Where can I obtain I-9 Forms?

  • The INS Website located at: https://www.uscis.gov/
  • A limited number of forms are available through the local INS office: Immigration and Naturalization Service
    2901 Metro Avenue, Suite 100
    Bloomington, MN 55425
  • I-9 Forms can be photocopied provided both pages are reproduced. The I-9 instructions must be available to the employee during the completion of the form.

 How is the I-9 Form completed?

Section 1: Employee Information and Verification
The employee completes this section on the first day of employment.

If the employee is unable to complete Section 1 by him/herself or if the employee needs the form translated, assistance may be provided. The preparer and/or translator must read the form to the employee, assist him/her in completing Section 1, and have the employee sign or mark the form in the appropriate place.

The preparer or translator must complete the “Preparer and/or Translator Certification” block on the Form I-9.

The employer is responsible for ensuring that Section 1 is completed properly.

Section 2: Employer Review and Verification
Employees must present an original document/s (photocopies are unacceptable) to the employer to establish identity and employment eligibility.

An employee may only use receipts in lieu of original documents when (1) the receipt is for a replacement document where the original has been lost or stolen (receipts are not acceptable for initial issuance of employment authorization documents, drivers license or identification cards, social security cards, etc), (2) the arrival portion of the Form I-94 indicating temporary evidence of permanent resident status, or (3) the departure portion of the Form I-94 indicating refugee status. Documents accepted as receipts for the replacement or refugee status are valid for 90 days, at which time the original document must be provided by the employee to the employer. The temporary evidence of permanent resident status receipt is valid for 360 days.

Section 3: Updating and Verification
Employers must complete Section 3 when updating and/or verifying the I-9.

Employers must update and/or verify the Form I-9 not later than the date the employee’s work authorization expires as listed in Section 1.

Some things to remember:

  • Do not focus on the employee’s immigration status but rather on the documents they provide and whether the documents show identity or eligibility to work according to Section 2.
  • Employers must accept whatever documents offered by the employee as long as they appear to be genuine, relate to the person providing them, and are listed on the reverse side of the Form I-9. It is illegal to ask employees for specific documents. The employee must present original documents as requested under Section 2. Receipts for any of the documents on the lists are usually acceptable for 90 days. By the end of the receipt period the employee must provide the original document(s).
  • Do not rely solely on the information stated here. The INS “Handbook for Employers” (INS Form M-274) can be ordered by calling:

Request Forms: (800) 870-3676, or online at https://www.uscis.gov/

Employers in Minnesota may contact the St. Paul District INS Office at (612) 313-9052, or (800) 255-8155 for further information about employment laws relating to employer sanctions.

Employers Please Note
Immigration officials are encouraging refugees needing documentation for employment to obtain an “Employment Authorization Document” (EAD) by filing INS form I-765 with two photos. No fee is required for the first application for refugees or asylees. The I-765 is available online. 

The receipt for this application is not acceptable for I-9 purposes. Employees with an EAD must apply at least 90 days before the expiration date on the EAD for an extension of employment authorization. If an employee fails to timely file for an extension, employers may be obligated to terminate the worker’s employment until the new EAD is obtained. Employees should receive their new EAD in the mail (if approved) within 90 days, and may take their receipt to the local INS Office for immediate issuance if it has not arrived at the end of the 90-day period.

Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
2901 Metro Dr., Suite 100
Bloomington, MN 55425
Phone: (800) 375-5283

INS Hours:
Monday – 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Friday – Closed to the public.
(subject to change)

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