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I-9 Employment Eligibility Documents

Introduction: What is the Role of These I-9 Documents
The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) has been law since 1986. It has two main requirements of employers:
(1) To hire only persons authorized to work in the United States, and
(2) To not discriminate on the basis of citizenship status or national origin.

IRCA was enacted to control unauthorized immigration to the United States. Under IRCA, employers may be sanctioned by the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) two primary immigration related agencies the United States Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS) and Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) for knowingly hiring non-U.S. citizens who are not authorized to work in the United States.

IRCA requires U.S. employers verify the employment eligibility status of newly-hired employees. IRCA makes it unlawful for employers to knowingly hire or continue to employ unauthorized workers. In response to the law, the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which is now the United States Citizens and Immigration Service (USCIS) and an integrated component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), created Form I-9 and mandated its accurate and timely completion by all U.S. employers and their employees.

It is unlawful for any employer to "knowingly hire" an unauthorized worker. Actual employer knowledge the employee is not employment authorized is not required. Employers are liable for "constructive knowledge" an employee is not employment authorized. The requisite employer knowledge may be constructive knowledge when it may be fairly inferred through notice of certain facts which through exercise of reasonable care would lead a person to know about; or the employer deliberately fails to investigate such facts.

Documents That Establish Identity and Employment Eligibility
The I-9 regulations list the types of documents that may be used to verify that a new hire is authorized to work in the U.S. These documents fall into one of three categories:

  • Those that establish both the new hire's identity and employment eligibility (List A).
  • Those that establish identity only (List B).
  • Those that establish work eligibility only (List C).

Form I-9 requires that the employee select and offers either a List A Document, OR a List B AND List C Document.

The documents identified below are acceptable to establish identity and employment eligibility. Please note that the current list of acceptable documents is different than the list that appears on the back of the OLD I-9 Form because on November 1, 2007 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a NEW I-9 Form. Click here to read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the NEW I-9 Form, effective November 1, 2007.

List A--Documents that Establish Both Identity and Employment Eligibility:

  • U.S. Passport (unexpired or expired)
  • Unexpired foreign passport that contains a temporary I-551 stamp
  • Alien Registration Receipt Card or Permanent Resident Card (INS Form I-551)
  • Unexpired Employment Authorization Card that contains a photograph (Form I-766, Form I-688, Form I-688A, Form I-688B)
  • For non-immigrants authorized to work for a specific employer: an unexpired foreign passport with an Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94, bearing an unexpired endorsement of the individual's nonimmigrant status.
  • Unexpired foreign passport with a Machine Readable Immigrant Visa (MRIV) and unexpired temporary I-551 stamp (valid until the expiration date set forth on the temporary I-551 stamp).
  • Unexpired foreign passport with a MRIV containing temporary I-551 language and endorsed with an unexpired DHS admission stamp (valid for one year from the date of admission).

List B--Documents that Establish Identity:

  • 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, sex, height, eye color, and address
  • 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, sex, height, eye color, and address
  • School ID card with a photograph
  • Voter's registration card
  • U.S. Military card or draft record
  • Military dependent's ID card
  • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card
  • Native American tribal document
  • Driver's license issued by a Canadian government authority

For persons under age 18 who are unable to present a document listed above:

  • School record or report card
  • Clinic, doctor, or hospital record
  • Day-care or nursery school record.

List C--Documents that Establish Employment Eligibility:

  • U.S. Social Security card issued by the Social Security Administration (other than a card stating it is not valid for employment or valid only with INS work authorization)
  • Certification of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545 or Form DS-1350)
  • Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a state, county, municipal authority or outlying possession of the United States bearing an official seal
  • Native American tribal document
  • U.S. Citizen ID Card (Form I-197)
  • ID Card for use of Resident Citizen in the United States (Form I-179)
  • Unexpired employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security (other than those listed under List A), including (1) a Form I-94 identifying the holder as an asylee (by stating "asylum", "asylee" or appropriate provision of law), or (2) other documentation issued by DHS (or the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)) that identifies the holder as an asylee, lawful permanent resident, refugee (except for the Form I-94 identifying the holder as a refugee, which is considered a receipt only), or other status authorized to work in the United States incident to status.

Form I-9 requires that the employee select and offers either a List A Document, OR a List B AND List C Document.

The employer must be careful it does not incur liability for "document abuse." The employer may not require the employee show specific documents. Document abuse is an unlawful unfair immigration related employment practice (UIREP).

The employer MAY NOT request more documents than is required under the law, and/or reject acceptable documents.

Employers should accept documents that appear to be genuine on their face.  An employer is not expected to be a document expert.

Participation in the DHS/USCIS E-Verify Program can assist in determining the validity of documents presented to employers as required in the Form I-9 process.


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This is an advertisement. The Goulder Immigration Law Firm is the law office of Gerald Goulder and limits its practice predominantly to US immigration and naturalization law; and we do not claim expertise in the laws of states other than Nort Carolina. The information contained on this site is intended to educate members of the public generally and is not intended to provide solutions to individual problems. Readers are cautioned not to attempt to solve individual problems on the basis of information contained herein and are strongly advised to seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney regarding specific case situations. The information on this website may not be up to date and should not be relied on without the advice and representation of your attorney. The links to government agencies and other websites are provided as a convenience only and no warranty express or implied is made regarding the accuracy of information obtained from those websites.