Mind Your I-9s

Completing Form I-9, the federal Employment Eligibility Verification Form, for each employee you hire is nothing new; employers have been doing this for 30 years. But here are some reminders and pointers for this task.


  • Employees should complete Section 1 of the form after they’ve accepted your job offer but no later than the first day of work. 
  • You do not need to fill out I-9 forms for independent contractors or their employees, only for your employees.
  • If it is cost-effective, you may outsource collection and storage of I-9 forms, for example, to your payroll service if you use one.
  • Do not store I-9 forms in your employees’ personnel files; keep them all together in a separate folder (paper or electronic) stored securely. That way, if a government agent asks to inspect your forms, he or she won’t see other confidential documents within your personnel files. You can store the forms off site, but be sure they are readily accessible if you are subject to an inspection.
  • Store forms for current employees only.
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recommends you store I-9 forms together with copies of documentation. If you choose to make copies of documents your employees present, you must do so for all employees.


What documents can you accept as valid for an employee to show his or her identity and authorization to work? A list of acceptable documents is on page 9 of the I-9 form. You must accept any of the items listed, and you shouldn’t ask for any more than are required. Employees can show either (see the form for the full list):


  • One document that establishes both identity and employment authorization such as a U.S. passport or passport card, or a permanent resident card or alien registration receipt card (signature not required), or
  • One proof of identity, such as a driver’s license, government-issued or school ID card with photo, or voter registration card, PLUS one document that establishes employment authorization, such as a Social Security card, state-issued certification of report of birth, or original or certified copy of a birth certificate.


Find more information, visit the USCIS I-9 Central website, or read its Handbook for Employers.

Form I-9 is one of the many topics covered in TMA’s Human Resources Seminar for non-experts in human resources. You still have two opportunities to attend: in Austin Sept. 28 and in Houston Oct. 21. Or catch the live webcast on Sept. 28, 9 am-12:30 pm (CT). Registration is open for all three options! And, find more TMA resources at www.texmed.org/HRhelp.

Published Aug. 26, 2016

Last Updated On

December 06, 2016

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