Form I-9 Definition

Cite this article as:"Form I-9 Definition," in The Business Professor, updated April 5, 2019, last accessed October 25, 2020,


I-9 Form Definition

Form I-9 is referred to as a form of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is the official Employment Eligibility Verification which the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 mandated. This form is utilized in the verification of legal permission to work and the identity of all paid employees in the U.S. Every employer in the United States must ensure that each employee they hire has successfully completed the Form I-9.

A Little More on What is the Form I-9

According to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), employers are required to verify that newly employed workers in the U.S. submit valid facial documents confirming the employee’s identity, as well as, legal permit to accept employment in the U.S. The federal government provides the I-9 or more appropriately, the Employment Eligibility Verification Form for the purpose of verification.

It is stated that an I-9 form must be completed by all employees hired after the 6th of November, 1986 upon hire. Upon commencement of employment, Section 1 of the I-9 must be completed by all employees. Section 2 must be completed by the employer within the first three days the employee starts working. The employer must ensure the successful completion of the form and its timely submission.

Contractors or unpaid volunteers do not need to fill out the I-9. However, a company might still be liable if it outsources work to a contractor whom they know is unauthorized or employs workers who are.

Since the introduction of the first form in 1987, several versions of the I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, have been introduced. Not every version of the I-9 form is valid for use. In order to know if you are using the right I-9 version, check for the revision date. This date can be located on the bottom left part of the form. This is different from the expiry date printed on top of the form.

At the moment, the valid forms are only those reflecting the revision date:

In a situation where the employee can’t read or write in the English language, a preparer or translator may fill the form and also sign it on the employee’s behalf. But it is important to know that the employee’s personal signature is also required in the form.

Prerequisites for employees

While completing the I-9, under perjury penalty, prospective employees affirm that they belong to one of the undermentioned categories:

A citizen of the United States

A non-U.S. citizen national

A foreigner permitted to work or

A legal permanent resident.

Document proving identity or employment authorization

With the I-9, it is mandatory for prospective employees to provide documents which certify their eligibility to work. Various documents are acceptable in a certain combination with another. It is important that the prospective employee provides the following:

One document that confirms identity, as well as, employment eligibility (on List A on Form I-9) or

One document that confirms identity (on List B) alongside another document which confirms employment eligibility (on List C).

Each and every documentation shall not have expired as of the 3rd of April, 2009.


It is mandatory that employers reverify or update specific ID documents before or upon their expiration date. This process is not necessary for presented and accepted Permanent Resident Cards or non-expired U.S. Passports whenever they expire. Neither does it apply to any List B document such as a state ID or a state driver’s license. The limited requirements, as well as, the allowed scenarios of reverification are listed on the USCIS website, in the Employer part of the Employer’s Bulletins.

For citizens of the United States, form I-9 is valid continuously. The only exception for this validity is when there is an employment break that exceeds one year. International employees on H-1B, J-1, or F-1 visas must reverify their I-9 every time it expires. It must have an entirely new work authorization permit. This visa must be renewed with EAD, work authorization, Permanent Residence Card, and much more. H-1B represents specialty occupation, J-1 represents exchange visitor, and F-1 represents the student.


It is obligatory for employers to retain an I-9 for every current employee. Furthermore, they should retain this form for three years after the hiring date or a year after the exact date employment ends, depending on the later one. It is a must that employers provide their employees’ I-9 form whenever it is requested for by the immigration or labor authority.

References for Form I-9

Academic Research on Form I-9 Form

•    The labor market impact of mandated employment verification systems, Amuedo-Dorantes, C., & Bansak, C. (2012). American Economic Review, 102(3), 543-48. This article delves into the labor market. It focuses on the impact of employment verification mandates at the state level has on the wages and employment of unauthorized workers all over the U.S. The timeframe was from 2004 to 2010. It is discovered that E-Verify mandates covering every employer curb the employment possibility of unauthorized workers but they have mixed effects on wages.

•    12…… The Sanctioning of Unauthorized Migration and Alien Employment, Miller, M. J. (2001). Global human smuggling: Comparative perspectives, 318. This article analyzes foreign employment, as well as, how unauthorized migration is sanctioned.

•    The impact of E‐Verify mandates on labor market outcomes, Orrenius, P. M., & Zavodny, M. (2015). Southern Economic Journal, 81(4), 947-959. This article is based on how E-Verify mandates affect the outcomes of the labor market. Certain states are operating on laws which ensure that employers use the E-Verify program to determine their eligibility status to work legally in the U.S. Based on the data used, the study analyzes if the laws have an impact on the outcomes of the labor market among Mexican immigrants who are probably unauthorized. It is discovered that these government-based mandates decrease average hourly income among illegal male Mexican immigrants. On the other hand, it increases the participation of the labor force among illegal female Mexican female immigrants.

•    Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification: Franz Kafka’s Solution to Illegal Immigration, Harper, J. (2008).  This research work explicates the electronic EEV system. EEV represents employment eligibility verification. In a debate on immigration reform, it was treated. Electronic EEV is a web-based employee vetting system which intends to reinforce the internal enforcement of laws of immigration. An obligatory national EEV system will be expensive but won’t stop illegal immigration. In order to create a perfect employment eligibility verification system, a national ID system would be needed. This would cost roughly $20 billion to create while hundreds of millions would be needed each year to successfully operate it. A national ID system should be rejected even if it were free as law-abiding American citizens would lose more privacy.

•    Employment verification mandates and the labor market outcomes of likely unauthorized and native workers, AmuedoDorantes, C., & Bansak, C. (2014). Contemporary Economic Policy, 32(3), 671-680. This research paper attempts an analysis of the impact of E-Verify mandates on illegal and native workers. States have decided to handle immigration matters since there was a recent failure, at the federal level, to reform immigration policy. This has made researchers focus more on state dynamics pertaining to immigration policy. Till today, there is no precise comprehension of the consequences of imposing E-Verify on likely illegal native or immigrants across the U.S. It is discovered that enactment of E-Verify mandates decreases the employment possibility of likely illegal workers. In addition, it increases the hourly wages of unauthorized women. Non-Hispanic natives tend to have a raise as a result of the enactment of employment verification mandates.

•    Auditors’ compliance with employment eligibilty verification form I9 of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Okcabol, F. (2002). In Mirrors and Prisms Interrogating Accounting (pp. 165-180). Emerald Group Publishing Limited. This article explores how auditors comply with the I-9 form of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Based on previous studies, auditors, as well as, employers fail to comply with the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. The failure to comply brought about a 19% rise in national origin and citizenship discrimination in 1990. Not complying with this act can make small businesses declare bankruptcy as a result of the fines Immigration and Naturalization Services may place on employers. This study encourages employers to comply with the act in order to avoid monetary liabilities.

•    Do state work eligibility verification laws reduce unauthorized immigration?, Orrenius, P. M., & Zavodny, M. (2016). IZA Journal of Migration, 5(1), 5. This research is concerned with E-Verify laws by the state and how they may decrease unauthorized immigration. In the 2000s, various states adopted laws which required employers to confirm the eligibility status of their employees to work in the U.S. This study is based on data from the American Community Survey from 2005-2014. This is used to analyze how these laws affect the locational choices of illegal immigrants. The results show that when there is an E-Verify law, it decreases the number of less-educated immigrants in their prime age, hailing from Mexico and Central America.

•    Policy innovation or vertical integration? A view of immigration federalism from the states, Newton, L. (2012). Law & Policy, 34(2), 113-137. This article weighs both policy innovation and vertical integration, with a view of immigration from the angle of the states. Hundreds of immigration bills have been passed since 2005 by state legislatures in an attempt to resolve the immigration challenges that were caused by federal inaction. This research work checks if states are functioning as innovative laboratories for immigration policy. 500 immigration bills passed from January 2006 to December 2008 are analyzed in this research. It is discovered eventually that despite the fact that many states are challenging federal sovereignty in immigration matters, there is little trace of policy innovation from the states.

•    How do e-verify mandates affect unauthorized immigrant workers?, Orrenius, P., & Zavodny, M. (2013). This paper examines how illegal immigrant workers are affected by E-Verify mandates. Many states are operating on laws which ensure that employers use the E-Verify program to determine their eligibility status to work legally in the U.S. Based on the data used, the study analyzes if the laws have an impact on the outcomes of the labor market among Mexican immigrants who are probably unauthorized. It is discovered that these government-based mandates decrease average hourly income among illegal male Mexican immigrants. On the other hand, it increases the participation of the labor force among illegal female Mexican female immigrants.

•    Recruitment and selection: hiring the right person, Gusdorf, M. L. (2008). USA: Society for Human Resource Management. This article centers on how recruiting and choosing the right person.


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