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I-9 acceptable documents refer to documents that may be used to verify identity and work authorization status for employees. The I-9 Form is a government form published by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Employers are required to complete an I-9 Form and review I-9 acceptable documents for every new hire.
What Are I-9 Acceptable Documents For?
The I-9 Form is intended to confirm employee identity and verify authorization to work in the US. Section 2 of the I-9 Form lays out which documents may be accepted on their own or along with other documents for such verification. You can view the I-9 Form and photos of sample I-9 acceptable documents on the USCIS website.
Listed I-9 Acceptable Documents
Employees may either provide one of the List A documents to verify both identity and work authorization, or provide one of the List B documents to verify identity plus one of the List C documents to verify work authorization.
List A documents can be used to verify both identity and work authorization. No additional documents are required for review. List A documents include:
- US Passport or US Passport Card issued by the US Department of State
- Permanent Resident Card (also known as “green cards”) issued by USCIS
- Employment Authorization Document Card (Form I-766) issued by USCIS
- Foreign passports containing one of the following:
- an unexpired endorsement to work without limitations or restrictions against the work they’ve been hired to perform (Form I-94 or I-94A)
- Visa entry containing an I-551 stamp or notation granting admission and resident status for a set period
- Passport from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) or the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) showing non-immigrant admission under the Compacts of Free Association. These compacts grant FSM and RMI citizens admission to the US without foreign entry visas, subject to some restrictions. Passport holders from FSM and RMI should also submit Form I-94 or I-94A.
List B documents can be used to verify identity only. Employees must also present a document from List C if using one of these to verify identity. List B documents include:
- US driver’s license
- Photo ID card issued by federal, state, or local government entities
- School ID card with photograph
- US military card or draft record
- Military dependent’s ID card
- US Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document card including basic physical description
- Native American tribal document issued by a Native American tribe and showing membership in a recognized tribe
- Canadian driver’s license
Additional documents may be accepted if the individual is under 18 and unable to provide one of the documents listed above. For individuals under 18 only, these may include:
- School record or report card
- Clinic, doctor, or hospital record
- Daycare or nursery school record
Minors can also establish identity through notation by a parent or legal guardian. Similarly, an individual with a disability can establish identity through notation by a parent, legal guardian, nonprofit organization, association, or rehabilitation program. For details on completing these notations correctly, refer to Section 4 of the USCIS Handbook for Employers.
List C documents can be used to verify work authorization only. Employees must also present a document from List B if using one of these to verify work authorization. List C documents include:
- US Social Security card
- Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a US territory
- Recognized birth certificates recording birth abroad (Forms FS-240, FS-545, or DS-1350)
- Native American tribal document
- US Citizen ID Card (Form I-197)
- Identification Card for Use of Resident Citizen in the United States (Form I-179)
- Employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security
When Must I-9 Acceptable Documents Be Reverified?
I-9 acceptable documents do not usually need to be reverified after the initial review. The one exception is when an employee’s work authorization is due to expire. In this case, reverification is required before the expiration date of the work authorization.
Tips For HR Staff Reviewing I-9 Documents
Employers are obligated to review I-9 documents effectively and fairly. Time delays, failure to review documents, and discriminatory practices can all land employers in hot water. Penalties issued by USCIS against employers include fines and potentially even criminal charges.
Check documents appear to be genuine
Documents should be verified in person and must appear to be genuine. If unfamiliar with one of the documents offered, compare it to one of the sample photographs on the USCIS website. Faxes or scans of documents should not be accepted. In limited circumstances, a receipt can be accepted in place of the actual document. This most commonly occurs when the document has been lost or stolen and the employee has applied for a replacement. Receipts are temporary measures only and the correct document must still be verified, usually within 90 days.
Don’t limit which documents you will accept
To avoid claims of discrimination, never demand that an employee only shows documents you’re familiar with. The employee should be allowed to provide any document or combination of documents from the list of acceptable documents.
Review I-9 documents on a timely basis
Form I-9 has strict compliance deadlines. The employer must complete Section 2, including verification of I-9 acceptable documents, by the end of the employee’s third day of employment. Counting these days may include weekends if the employer operates on weekends.
For employees whose work authorization expires, a new verification will need to be conducted before the expiration dates. Set reminders to reverify with these employees shortly before their work authorization is set to end.
Importance of I-9 Acceptable Documents
Verifying documents when completing a new hire’s I-9 Form is required by law. Failing to complete these verifications can result in penalties including fines and even criminal charges. Complete verifications of I-9 acceptable documents diligently to ensure compliance.