Understanding Form I-9: Employment Eligibility Verification
Tarmack LogoRequest a demo

A Comprehensive Guide to Form I-9: Meaning, Components, and Latest Developments

January 25, 2024 | Michael Warne

A Comprehensive Guide to Form I-9: Meaning, Components, and Latest Developments

As an employer, complying with U.S. employment laws necessitates a clear understanding of Form I-9, also known as Employment Eligibility Verification. 

The form is critical in verifying the identity and legal authorization of employees to work in the United States. While the process may seem straightforward, several nuances require careful attention to effectively avoid potential complications. 

Did you know?

Tarmack helps you easily hire international talent as your full time employees without opening international subsidiaries. Find out more about our Employer of Record services

Learn More

Purpose and Legal Basis 

The form is designed to deter the unlawful employment of persons not authorized to work in the United States. Employers must, therefore, ensure each employee (both citizens and noncitizens) hired after November 6, 1986, properly completes the form.

Understanding Form I-9 in Parts

The form is divided into three sections that must be completed at specific times:

Employee Section (Section 1) 

Section 1 of the form must be completed by the employee by their first day of employment, and only after accepting a job offer. 

In this section, the employee must attest to their employment authorization, whether they are a citizen, non-citizen national of the United States, a lawful permanent resident, or an alien authorized to work until a specified date. 

They must also present acceptable documentation that proves their identity and eligibility to work.

Employer Section (Section 2) 

Employers must complete Section 2 within three business days of the employee starting work for pay. They must physically examine one or more documents from the Lists of Acceptable Documents that validate the employee’s identity and employment authorization. 

  • List A documents prove both identity and employment authorization (e.g., U.S. passport). 
  • List B documents only establish identity (e.g., driver’s license). 
  • List C documents only attest to employment authorization (e.g., Social Security card).

Employers cannot specify which documents to present. However, they must accept documents that appear genuine and relate to the individual.

Reverification (Section 3) 

Employers may need to verify an employee’s authorization to work when their employment authorization or documentation expires. This is done in Section 3 of the form. 

It is also used when rehiring a former employee under certain conditions, or when an employee changes their name.

Grasping the Changes: How New Legislation Affects Form I-9 Procedures

Employment laws and regulations are subject to change, and keeping up to date is vital for both employers and employees.

Given the changing work environment accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced significant updates to Form I-9 and the document verification process. Here’s what employers need to know about the new era of compliance with employment eligibility requirements –

1. DHS Modernizes Employment Eligibility Verification

On July 21, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) introduced an updated version of the I-9 process. It has been a key part of checking if someone is allowed to work in the United States for more than 30 years.

This new approach will make the process easier and can fit with the growing need for digital solutions, especially considering the increasing prevalence of the remote work culture.

2. E-Verify Takes Center Stage

With E-Verify, employers who hold a good standing in the system can now conduct document verification electronically. This landmark change is a nod to the increasing reliance on virtual workflows. 

It also means authorized employers can review necessary documents virtually through video meetings and digital submissions.

3. The Checkbox

Starting from August 1, 2023, the revised form will have a specific checkbox for employers who use E-Verify to confirm that they conducted a remote review. However, it is important to note that regardless of the remote review, the employers are obligated to complete the in-person verification within three business days of the employee’s start date.

4. A Choice for Employers

What is critical is that the new remote verification method is optional. Employers may continue with traditional in-person I-9 verification practices. For remote verification adopters, consistency is key. This means the chosen method must be applied evenly across employees within an E-Verify worksite.

5. A Grace Period for Transition

To ensure compliance, those who followed the COVID-19 protocol flexibilities must verify all employment eligibility documents that were reviewed remotely by August 30, 2023. 

On the other hand, employers who are not enrolled in E-Verify must physically inspect the documents for employees hired on or after March 20, 2020, even if they were previously verified virtually.

6. Streamlining for Simplicity and Accessibility

The updated Form I-9 has also incorporated the following changes to enhance user experience and maintain a contemporary approach –

  • Consolidated Sections 1 and 2 into one page
  • Enhanced digital completion on mobile devices
  • A detachable Preparer/Translator Certification supplement
  • A separate Reverification and Rehire supplement
  • Updated Acceptable Documents list
  • More concise instructions

Essentially, the updated version is reflective of the broader move within government processes toward efficiency and technological advancement.

Prepare for Change With the Industry Experts  – Tarmack!

The updated Form I-9 and remote verification process implemented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) mark a significant shift in verifying employment eligibility. Employers should stay informed, prepare for the transition, and evaluate whether the new remote E-Verify option aligns with their workforce management strategies.

HR Across 150+ Countries

Tarmack serves as your comprehensive global HR partner, addressing all your human resources requirements under one roof. Whether you seek support in Recruitment, Payroll, Compliance, or PEO/EOR services, you've found the ideal destination. And we cater to both domestic and international needs, covering more than 150 countries!

Find Out More

To navigate these changes effectively, it would be best to seek assistance from experts like Tarmack specializing in global hiring and legal consultation. Get started!

A truly global HR platform with everything you need to build, grow & manage a global team.

  • bestTalentIdentifying & recruiting the best talent
  • payrollPayroll with full compliance across 100+ countries
  • agreementsEmployment agreements as per local laws
  • contractorContractor invoices & time management
  • onboardingSmooth remote onboarding of employees
  • immigrationImmigration & mobility services around the world
Find Out More