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Can you ask employees for specific documents for the I-9?

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2021 | workplace discrimination |

If you have four or more employees, your company probably must comply with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Among other things, the IRCA requires you to complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for each new employee you hire. You also must retain completed forms for the duration of each worker’s employment plus some time afterward.

When completing Form I-9 for a new employee, you must examine the documentation that proves the person’s identity and work eligibility. While workers often choose to provide a driver’s license and a social security card, you cannot ask employees for specific documents.

Employees have options

The instructions to Form I-9 include a List of Acceptable Documents. This list has three parts: A, B and C. Employees may provide one document from List A, such as a U.S. Passport, that proves both identity and work authorization.

Alternatively, they may decide to present one document from List B plus one document from List C. List B documents are good for identification, while List C documents prove work eligibility. As long as a new worker provides any acceptable document or combination of acceptable documents, you usually must accept it.

Reverification is usually not appropriate

It may be tempting to ask employees to provide new documentation when the documents they previously offered expire. This is usually not appropriate, however.

In fact, you usually only may examine new documents when work authorization expires. This happens with employees who have visas or other types of temporary work authorization, but not with U.S. citizens and most legal permanent residents.

Asking for specific or different documents may constitute an unfair immigration-related employment practice, which may result in a steep fine. Ultimately, by closely following the Form I-9 instructions, you can verify identity and employment eligibility without violating federal law.