Employment Eligibility Verification

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Every US employer is required by law to complete and timely submit an I-9 form to verify each employee’s identity and US work permit. The US authorities regularly conduct raids to uncover violations. In the following we therefore summarize the most important information on the so-called “Employment Eligibility Verification”.

What is the I-9 form?

The Form I-9 is called the “Employment Eligibility Verification” . The so-called I-9 form must be completed by US employers as soon as a new employee is hired in the USA. The “Employment Eligibility Verification” also applies to employees seconded to the USA. The I-9 is for testing the identity of the employee, its legal status and his work permit in the USA.

This is to prevent illegal employment. At the same time, curbing illegal employment should not lead to discrimination against employees. For this reason, the same I-9 form must be completed for all employees – regardless of whether the employee is a US citizen or has a green card or other US residency status. So the I-9 form must for foreign staff US citizens and Green Card-Besitzer present.

Since the US immigration service USCIS introduced the electronic I-9 in 2017, new I-9 form versions have been published again and again. It is therefore always advisable for US employers to download and use the current I-9 and instructions available on the USCIS website.

You may also consult an immigration lawyer London.

I-9 Completion Instructions

The Form I-9 consists of two parts:

Part 1

This section must be completed and signed by the employee no later than the first day of work. Special feature: Part 1 can be completed before starting work, provided the employee has already accepted the job offer.

Part 2

This section must be completed and signed by the employer within three days of starting work.

Worker: submission of information

The employee must enter mandatory information in the I-9 form and can also provide additional data voluntarily.

Employer: verification of identity and work permit documents

Before the employer fills in part 2, he must examine the employee’s original documents and thus confirm the identity and the existence of the work permit. The permitted documents are divided as follows:

  • List A: “Documents that Establish both Identity and Employment Authorization” (e.g. foreign passport in connection with I-94 , green card)
  • List B: “Documents that Establish Identity” (e.g. driver’s license, student ID card)
  • List C: “Documents that Establish Employment Authorization” (z. B. Geburtsurkunde)

Work permits and identity are adequately documented if the employee is either a document from List A or one document from List B plus one document from List C.

It is up to the employee to decide which documents to submit.

Example: A German employee with the status “L-1 Intracompany Transferee” presents his German passport in connection with the I-94 entry form as a document from list A. These two documents are considered “one” document. The employer would then check whether:

  • The documents are “apparently genuine”,
  • The documents are valid
  • The name on the documents matches
  • The I-94 document confirms L-1 status.

The I-9 must be completed, printed, and signed by both parties (employer and employee). While the employer is not required to send the signed form to US immigration, a completed and signed form is required to be available at all times and presented upon request during a US government inspection.

US Employer Obligations

The employer is required to keep the I-9 form as long as the employment relationship lasts. If the employment relationship ends, the form must be kept until three years after the hire date or until one year after the termination (whichever date is later). Under certain conditions, electronic form is sufficient.

In addition, verification (“revivification”) of certain identity and work permit documents may be necessary, e.g. B. before expiry or when new documents are available.

US Government Review and I-9 Violations

The US government has the ability to review the information in the I-9. Failure to comply with I-9 provisions may result in civil or criminal penalties. Such sanctions are also possible if discrimination or the employment of employees without a work permit (= illegal employment) is determined.

Since August 2016, significantly higher penalties have been due for violations of the I-9 regulations, which have been in force for 20 years. The penalties for employing an employee without a work permit for the USA are understandably particularly severe. But errors when filling out the I-9 form, such as incorrect or incomplete information about the employee or late submission, are severely penalized. A penalty of $216 to $2,156 will be imposed for such formal errors.

Since these high penalties are charged for each individual violation, small and medium-sized companies in particular should comply with the regulations meticulously.


The E-Verify System is an adjunct to Form I-9 verification services and does not replace it. Rather, it is used for quick reconciliation between information in the I-9 form and data collected by the US government.

The information from Form I-9 is first transferred to the E-Verify system. This information is then cross-checked with electronic records from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to verify that the new employee’s identity and work permit information is accurate.

Certain companies are required to use E-Verify (e.g. companies that perform US government contracts). Other companies use the E-Verify system on a voluntary basis. To use E-Verify, a free E-Verify user account must be created.

Please note that E-Verify is also available to employees. For example, anyone who wants to be sure that the personal E-Verify data is correct before changing employers can use the so-called Self Check system. If the data is incorrect, the data can be corrected.

Detailed I-9 and E-Verify information can be found on the official website of the US Immigration Service.

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