What is the Form I-9?
Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the US. Form I-9 must be filled out for every US-based employee that works for your company, not only non-citizens. The form requires that the employee present documents to you verifying their identity and authorization to work in the US. You must sign a statement affirming that the presented documents are genuine to the best of your knowledge.
Why is it important for you?
All US employers must complete and ensure proper completion of an I-9 form for every individual they hire regardless of whether they are a US citizen or not.
Completion of a new employee's I-9 is built into their enrollment workflow on Justworks. Employees must fill out their portion of the I-9, Section 1, no later than the end of the first day of their employment. Employers with admin permissions in Justworks will then be prompted to complete their portion of the I-9, Section 2, directly in their Justworks account. The employer portion has to be completed no later than three days after employee section is completed.
For example, if your employee starts work on a Monday, you have until Thursday to complete their I-9. It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that I-9s are completed to meet this deadline. Otherwise, your company may be subject to penalties. Even if all your employees are authorized to work in the US, you may still be fined if I-9 forms are not properly completed.
Who needs to complete an I-9 form?
All new paid employees that are physically working in the US need to complete an I-9 form. This will include a business owner that takes a salary.
You do not need to complete I-9 forms for contractors or consultants. But, it is illegal to contract with an independent contractor or consultant if you know they are not authorized to work in the US.
What needs to happen?
- Your employee must complete Section 1 of the I-9 form by the end of their first day of employment. Justworks collects your employees' I-9 information during the enrollment process.
- You must verify your employee’s documentation and accept any documents from the List of Acceptable Documents within three days of an employee starting work. You are verifying the employee’s identity and the employee’s authorization to work in the US.
- You must physically examine each document. Importantly, the employee must be present when you verify their documents.
You (the same person who verified the employee's documents) must then complete Section 2 and sign the I-9 form.
If you have any specific questions about completing the I-9, it's best to refer to the US Citizenship & Immigration Service's Employer Handbook.
It is possible to pay an employee before their I-9 is completed but you should contact your attorney about specific cases.
If your employees have completed paper I-9s prior to your company using Justworks, they will need to submit and sign the form again. This is so Justworks can store the forms for you for all your employees, existing and new. If an employee is terminated, Justworks will retain their I-9 form for the required time.
Accessing I-9 forms
As an administrator, you have access to completed I-9 forms for all current and former employees through the Justworks dashboard. Go to HR > Documents to view all your employees’ completed I-9s or to find an I-9 for a particular employee, go to the employee’s profile page and find the forms stored under ‘Recent Documents’. The forms can be downloaded as a PDF or printed as needed but you don’t need to print them. The I-9 form will be retained within Justworks for at least the duration of the person's employment.
Looking for more information?
The USCIS has additional information that can help you understand your obligations as an employer in more detail. Also check out our blog post about how to navigate the new I-9 form, which all employers are required to be using as of September 18th, 2017.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.