I-9 Frequently Asked Questions
New Form I-9 is Latest in DHS Immigration Enforcement
The Department of Homeland Security has announced and published a new,
long-awaited version of the I-9 form used to confirm the identity and work
authorization of every new hire since 1986. The new form puts into practice the
reduction of the number of documents that had been technically required since
1996. Employers should start using the new I-9 form as quickly as possible, and
no later than December 7. DHS will publish a Federal Register notice imminently
giving employers 30 days from then to begin using the form.
The changes in the new forms are as follows:
Five documents have been removed from List A of the List of
Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561)
Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151)
Unexpired Reentry Permit (Form I-327)
Unexpired Refugee Travel Document (Form I-571)
One document was added to List A of the List of Acceptable Documents:
Unexpired Employment Authorization Document (I-766)
All the Employment Authorization Documents with photographs in
circulation are now included as one item on List A:
I-688, I-688A, I-688B, I-766
Instructions regarding Section 1 of Form I-9 now indicate that the employee
is not obliged to provide the Social Security Number in Section 1 of Form I-9,
unless he or she is employed by an employer who participates in E-Verify. (Of
course, other laws may require collection of the Social Security number in the
hiring process.) The instructions section on photocopying and retaining Form I-9
now includes information about electronically signing and retaining I-9 forms.
I-9's format, font, organization and grammar have changed slightly, but the
manner in which the form is completed has not changed. Previously completed I-9
forms should not be re-done with the new form. If, however, an employer needs to
re-verify an existing employee whose I-9 was completed on the old version and
whose work authorizing document has now expired, the new version of Form I-9
must be used, thus completing a new form altogether, rather than using the
bottom portion of the old version.
DHS has also published a new Handbook for Employers, Form M-274, which had
not been updated since 1991. The new handbook contains clearer explanations of
employers' obligations and updated examples of acceptable documents.
Unfortunately, the handbook fails to show all the different variations of the
shown document types that can be valid, fails to explain sufficiently that other
versions might be valid, fails to depict several types of acceptable documents
at all, and depicts some types of documents incorrectly. Thus, employers
continue to lack clear governmental guidance in their role as involuntary
DHS had been planning to re-vamp the Form I-9 more completely through a
comprehensive rulemaking and delayed the effort in part from anticipation of
comprehensive legislation that might have required even more changes. DHS has
decided to publish the just-announced version with only the above changes as
part of its publicized effort to pursue all available measures to enforce
existing immigration laws in the employment context.
The new form and information can be found on the Internet at the following
DHS recently published a regulation that announced an intention to hold
employers accountable for "constructive knowledge" of their employment of
unauthorized aliens, including admissions from alien workers themselves,
requests by workers for immigration sponsorship, no-match letters from the
Social Security Administration and notifications from DHS. DHS and SSA announced
that this Fall's round of no-match letters would contain also a letter from DHS
warning the employer not to ignore the no-match finding. The regulation and the
DHS letter set forth specific steps for an employer to take in response to the
SSA no-match letter that would provide a safe harbor for the employer from DHS
administrative sanctions. A federal court has since enjoined the regulation and
the DHS insert for no-match letters, but DHS is expected to take an aggressive
stand concerning constructive knowledge in prosecutions of employers and their
managers that are ongoing all over the United States.
Meanwhile, numerous states have enacted laws that require employers in
different situations to participate in otherwise voluntary federal verification
programs and certify their avoidance of unauthorized workers under penalty of
lost state contracts, lost business licenses and other lawsuits and enforcement
actions. The pattern of regulation concerning immigration compliance has become
increasingly complex with high stakes.
1. Q. When filling out the I-9 Form, can an employer
accept a social security card from an alien as proof of work authorization?
A - If the Social
Security Card does have a statement that it is not
valid for employment purposes, it should be accepted as proof of work
authorization. Such an unrestricted Social Security card is clearly listed
as a document that establishes employment eligibility on the back of the I-9
Are there different types of Social Security cards?
A. If you go to the
Security Administration's (SSA) website,
you will learn that SSA reports that it currently issues three types of
social security cards. Here is what SSA says on its website about the types
of social security cards it currently issues:
We issue three types
of Social Security cards.
All cards show your name and Social Security number.
The first type of card shows your name and Social Security number and
lets you work without restriction.
We issue it to:
U.S. Citizens and People lawfully
admitted to the United States on a permanent basis.
The second type of card shows your name and number and
“VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION.”
We issue this type of card to people
lawfully admitted to the United States on a temporary basis who have DHS
authorization to work.
The third type of card shows
your name and number and notes,
“NOT VALID FOR
EMPLOYMENT.” We issue it to people from other countries
Who are lawfully admitted to the United States without work authorization
from DHS, but with a valid non-work reason for needing a Social Security
number; or Who need a number
because of a federal law requiring a Social Security number to get a
benefit or service.
Frequently Asked Questions
None of the information in this web site should be construed as legal advice.
All forms policies, terms, information and procedures should be reviewed by your legal counsel before being used in any