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 United States. Form I-9 must be filled out for every employee who works for your company in the United States. The form requires that the employee present documents to you verifying their identity and authorization to work in the U.S. You must sign a statement affirming that the presented documents are genuine to the best of your knowledge.
All U.S. employers must complete and ensure proper completion of a Form I-9 for every new hire, regardless of whether they are a U.S. citizen.
If you’re not familiar with or unsure about the process and requirements around completing Forms I-9 for your employees, you should review the US Citizenship & Immigration Service's (USCIS) Employer Handbook before proceeding.
Who needs to complete a Form I-9?
All new paid employees who are physically working in the U.S. need to complete Form I-9. This includes business owners who receive wages or other remuneration.
What steps need to happen?
- Your employee must complete Section 1 of Form I-9 at the time of hire. Justworks collects your employees' Section 1 information during the enrollment process.
- You must collect, from your employee, the supporting documentation they provide according to the Form I-9 instructions. You cannot require any particular Acceptable Document from any List.
- 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 U.S.
- Note: If the employee’s work will last less than three days, you must complete Section 2 of Form I-9 no later than the first day of work.
- 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 Form I-9.
- Justworks account administrators will be prompted to complete Section 2 directly in their Justworks account, once Section 1 has been completed by the employee.
What about remote employees?
You may designate an authorized representative to fill out Forms I-9 on behalf of your company, including personnel officers, foremen, agents or notary public.. If an authorized representative fills out Form I-9 on your behalf, you are still liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process.
When completing Form I-9, the authorized representative must physically examine each document presented to determine if it reasonably appears to be genuine and relates to the employee presenting it. Reviewing or examining documents via webcam is not permissible.
Notaries as Authorized Representatives
If you hire a notary public to serve as the authorized representative, the notary public is acting as an authorized representative of you, not as a notary. The notary public must perform the same required actions as an authorized representative. When acting as an authorized representative, the notary public should not provide a notary seal on Form I-9.
Certain states, like California, have laws about whether or which notaries may be designated as an authorized representative for Form I-9 purposes, and you should refer to legal counsel to determine how these requirements may apply to your business.
Examining Documents during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a temporary policy wherein the department will defer the requirements for employers to review Form I-9 documents in-person with new employees. The change applies to employers and workplaces that are operating completely remotely. The physical documentation review requirements will not be excused if any employees are physically present at a work location. Employers that avail themselves of this option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee.
Employers must still inspect the Section 2 documents over video conference, fax, or e-mail and obtain and retain copies of the documents within three business days. Once normal operations resume, all employees who were onboarded using remote verification must report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification of their identity and employment eligibility documentation. Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should add "documents physically examined" with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field.
This page includes examples of how employers may complete the additional information field in Section 2 in accordance with this policy.
This policy has been regularly extended by DHS and was most recently extended through July 31, 2023. You can read about the original policy, the temporary extension, and other temporary policies on this page.
Previously, a separate temporary policy had allowed employers to accept expired List B documents when reviewing an employee’s work authorization documentation. As the pandemic restrictions relax and document-issuing authorities have begun to reopen, the DHS announced that this policy ended effective May 1, 2022. Employers will be required to update Form I-9 for employees who presented an expired List B document between May 1, 2020 and April 30, 2022 by July 31, 2022. The DHS also outlines a helpful information chart which provides more specifics on updating Form I-9 based on employment status.
Accessing Forms I-9
As an administrator, you have access to the completed forms for all current and former employees through the Justworks dashboard. Go to HR > Documents to view all your employees’ completed Forms I-9. To find a Form I-9 for a particular employee, go to the employee’s profile page and find the forms stored under ‘I-9s’. The forms can be downloaded as a PDF or printed as needed, though there is no requirement to print these forms.
The Form I-9 will be retained within Justworks for at least the duration of the person's employment. If an employee is terminated, Justworks will retain their Form I-9 for the required time.
Looking for more information?
The USCIS has additional information that can help you understand your obligations as an employer in more detail.
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.