Form I-9 Acceptable Documents for Employment Eligibility Verification


Emptech's founder, Jeff Aleixo


Jeffrey Aleixo

Form I-9 acceptable documents, I-9 electronic verification

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) requires all employers, regardless of the number of employees, to verify the identity of new employees and their eligibility for employment in the United States. IRCA prohibits discrimination based on citizenship or national origin. Also, it allows civil and criminal fines and penalties for the employment of undocumented workers.

To ensure proper identity and employment eligibility verification, employees have to present I-9 acceptable documents and to complete Section 1 of the form. Before completing Section 2 of Form I-9, employers need to examine the documents presented by the employee and record the document numbers and expiration dates.

Employers are ultimately liable for the proper completion of Form I‑9 and reviewing of I-9 acceptable documents. Therefore, they need to ensure that Section 1 of the form is properly completed by employees as well as that documents presented reasonably appear to be genuine, relate to the individual, and authorize the individual to work.

I-9 Acceptable Documents Criteria

The U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) lists documents acceptable in the process of verification of identity and work authorization.

I-9 acceptable documents can be used in a specified combination with another. However, employees have to provide one document that establishes both identity and employment eligibility or one document that establishes identity in combination with another document that establishes employment eligibility. There are three lists of I-9 acceptable documents.

Use this detailed I-9 verification guide to ensure a thorough understanding of the laws and regulations necessary to prevent violations and maintain I-9 compliance.

List A Documents

List A includes I-9 acceptable documents that establish both identity and employment authorization, such as:

  1. U.S. passport or U.S. passport card,
  2. Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card, or Alien Registration Receipt Card. This document is commonly called a Green Card,
  3. Foreign passport that contains a temporary I-551 stamp or temporary I-551 printed notation on a machine-readable immigrant visa,
  4. Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that contains a photograph,
  5. For nonimmigrant aliens authorized to be employed based on their nonimmigrant status, a foreign passport with Form I-94 bearing the same name as the passport and an endorsement of their nonimmigrant status. This document can be used as long as the period of endorsement has not yet expired and the proposed employment is not in conflict with any restrictions or limitations identified on the form,
  6. Passport from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) or the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) with Form I-94 indicating nonimmigrant admission under the Compact of Free Association Between the United States and the FSM or RMI.

List B Documents

List B documents are used to identify the worker and include:

  1. Driver’s license or ID card issued by a state or outlying possession of the United States provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address,
  2. ID card issued by federal, state, or local government agencies or entities, provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address,
  3. School ID card with a photograph,
  4. Voter’s registration card,
  5. U.S. military card or draft record,
  6. Military dependent’s ID card,
  7. U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card,
  8. Native American tribal document,
  9. Driver’s license issued by a Canadian government authority.

Persons under age 18 unable to present a document listed above can provide some of the following documents:

  1. School record or report card,
  2. Clinic, doctor, or hospital record, or
  3. Day care or nursery school record.

List C Documents

List C refers to I-9 acceptable documents that establish work authorization. Employees may present one of the following unexpired documents:

  1. A Social Security Account Number card, unless the card includes one of the following restrictions:
  • Not valid for employment,
  • Valid for work only with INS authorization,
  • Valid for work only with DHS authorization.
  1. Certification of a report of birth issued by the U.S. Department of State,
  2. Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a state, county, municipal authority or outlying territory of the United States bearing an official seal,
  3. Native American tribal document,
  4. Form I-197, U.S. Citizen Identification Card,
  5. Form I-179, Identification Card for Use of Resident Citizen in the United States,
  6. Employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security
Learn about recent changes in E-Verify requirements caused by the COVID-19 and what steps to take in case of a mismatch with the E-Verify database.

USCIS Temporary Changes to I-9 Acceptable Documents

On August 19, 2020, USCIS introduced a temporary change to the list of I-9 acceptable documents. Due to delays in the issuance of Employment Authorization Documents or EAD cards, USCIS announced that employees may use and employers have to accept form I-797 Notice of Action. This indicates the approval of Form I-765 instead of the actual EAD card if the I-797 is dated between December 1, 2019, and August 20, 2020.

Form I-797 will serve as an I-9 List C document that establishes employment eligibility but does not serve as a document to establish identity. If employees use the I-797 Notice of Action as a List C document, employers need to reverify them by December 1, 2020. In this case, employers accept either another List C document to establish employment authorization, or a List A document that establishes both identity and employment authorization.

COVID-19 Changes to Form I-9 Requirements

After several extensions during the COVID-19 pandemic, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that the guidance allowing remote completion of the Form I-9 would be extended for an additional 30 days. This relaxation of the requirement to defer the in-person, physical inspection of new hires’ identity and employment eligibility documentation was initially granted in March and will now expire on September 19, 2020. However, the waiver of the in-person review only applies to offices that are operating remotely. Once normal operations resume all employees who were onboarded using remote verification need to report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification of I-9 acceptable documents.

With these recent COVID-19 changes to Form I-9 requirements, it is critical that employers evaluate their current compliance processes, including updating, storing, and managing procedures for Form I-9. In addition to this, employers are required to monitor the DHS and ICE websites for additional updates regarding the termination of the extensions. This will enable them to avoid late completions and begin making plans to conduct the necessary in-person inspections. Furthermore, outsourcing I-9 verification is the best approach to stay informed on immigration-related policy and form updates that can affect businesses. Automated solutions electronically manage data, so employers can securely store and handle Form I-9 information while reducing compliance risk for their companies.

Outsource I-9 verification to eliminate Form I-9 errors, maintain compliance with the necessary regulations, and save your time and resources.
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