How to Fill Out the I-9 Form in 5 Steps [+Examples]

Cody Cromwell
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Determine If You Need to Complete an I-9 Form

Before you fill out an I-9 Form, you have to determine if you need to complete one. This sounds like a simple question, but it’s actually quite a difficult one to answer. So before you begin, here’s what you need to know.

Step 1: Is the person employed?

If the person you are hiring is the one using the services of a place of business, something like a grocery store, restaurant, or a small office or a nanny, you don’t need to have them complete an I-9 Form. But if they are employed at a department store, factory, factory shop, warehouse, or construction site, it’s a different story. Make sure you have them complete an I-9 Form if they are employed.

Step 2: Is the person employed by you?

I-9 Forms for Self-Employed Contractors

Businesses that use contract workers must verify the identity and eligibility of workers to perform work in the U.S. The Immigration and Nationality Act (I-9) requires the hiring entity to verify the identity and eligibility of all newly hired employees. The I-9 process to verify the identity and eligibility of workers is commonly referred to as I-9 verification.

The I-9 is a two-part form that the employer requires employees to fill out for new employment or to validate existing employment with the employer. Each employee completes and signs the I-9 form. The employer then retains a copy for their files and the original is sent to the employee for their files.

Inspecting and Validating I-9 Forms

The records contained in the I-9 provide the authorized Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official with the identity and authorization to work of each employee as well as their current employment authorization status.

The easiest way to demonstrate that an employee is authorized to work in the U.S. is through E-Verify. The E-Verify program is a web service that allows employers to electronically verify the work authorization status of new hires.

If an employer is required to verify the identity and work authorization status of their employees, either by their Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Contractor Agreement or by their company policies, they must comply with the I-9 process to verify employee identity and work authorization status.

Download Instructions on How to Fill Out the I-9 Form

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires that all employers verify the identity and eligibility to work of every individual they hire, by using I-9 forms.

Depending on the type of work you do, your I-9 form may be electronic or paper.

This tutorial is going to cover 5 simple steps to fill out the I-9 form.

How to: Fill out the I-9 form electronically

How to: Fill out the I-9 form on paper

How to: Use an I-9 & E-Verify software to fill out the I-9 form

How to: Incorporate an ITIN into your I-9 form

Also, here is a bonus on how to properly write a check for wages.

How to Fill Out an I-9 form from the Government Website

Do you have ice skating skills or basketball dribbling skills? Do you really enjoy cooking and baking? If you answered yes, then you must be familiar with the process of applying for a job. Some employers will ask you to get your form I-9 from the government website and also to get it filled out.

Filling the form I-9 from the government website is a frustrating job. Most of the websites don’t give any examples or clear system to follow.

To make it easy, I have filled out the form I-9 for you already. This guide will show you how to fill out the I-9 form and how to write down the items that apply to you.

How to Fill Out an I-9 Form Through Your HR or Payroll Provider

Once your HR or Payroll Department has a copy of your Social Security Number, they will be able to give you a copy of your own I-9 form.

You can also request a copy of your own I-9 form from a friend, spouse, coworker or family member, but do so by filling a Request for a Form I-9.

These are the most common places where you can receive your own I-9 form:

On Your Electronic Payroll Screen’s My Payroll Section

When you log into your HR or Payroll website, you will be automatically given the option to download a copy of your I-9.

If you cannot find that option…simply call or walk-in to your HR or Payroll department…and ask for a copy of your I-9.

At the Departments of Public Safety

Some states (like NY) require that you obtain an I-9 form from a department of public safety to open a savings or checking account.

However, other states…like FL and MI…don’t require proof of identity in order to open a bank account.

The requirements to open an account will vary from state to state.

Our Article on I-9 Forms

The US Employment Eligibility Verification system is very complex, so we have written a guide to help you fill out your I-9 form.

1st step: Picking a Form

The form you choose to fill out will depend on the type of work you are doing. Most people fill out Form I-9 when applying for employment, but if you are a student or are visiting the US on a vacation, you will want to use Form I-20.

Form I-9 is only needed for employers in the US, not foreign businesses.

2nd step: Selecting an employer

You have a choice of which entity to use:

  • Individuals must use Individual Form I-9 (Employer Identification Number)
  • Corporations (Form I-9)

Employers who are franchises,Sub-franchises, agencies, etc. (List of primary and secondary employers)

3rd step: Preparing the document

Review the checklist for your form.

Pamphlet Index:

Pamphlet U-4: List of Approved Documents

Applicant Identification Number (a Number – It Is Completely Different than Your Social Security Number)

Document Verification Methods:

  • Complete and submit an approved I-9
  • List of Accepted I-9 Documents
  • File electronically

Request Employees Bring Documentation on Day One

Employers often have a difficult time verifying the identity and work authorization of their employees. For example, US citizens are required to bring a current and unexpired US passport, national identity card or driver’s license.

But what happens if the employee doesn’t bring these documents with them the first day they show up to work? Employers often end up with an incomplete I-9 form. The consequences of an incomplete I-9 form can be dire. Businesses can be fined and shut down (in the case of federal businesses), and in many states, they’ll even be required to provide their foreign employees with work authorization.

This article outlines five steps that will help you avoid the pitfalls and help you win the day when it comes to completing the I-9 form in an employee’s first day at your business.

Assist Your Employee in Completing the Form

When the employee is filling out the form, it’s your job to assist them. A thorough understanding of what’s needed is necessary to help the employee correctly complete their I-9 form. Your help and support will go a long way in making the employee fill out the form correctly and quickly. If the employee’s handwriting is hard to read, consider using a transcription service to help them. The employee will appreciate the extra help.

Ask the employee to read the form line by line.

Answer any questions they may have.

Eliminate any questions that are irrelevant to their employment (e.g. questions about their day-to-day activities) and redirect them to other questions.

If necessary, use your own credentials or the policies of the company to answer questions for them.

I-9 Form Section 1: Employee Information & Attestation

Section 1 of the I-9 is where you’ll provide your personal details, details of your employment authorization and information regarding your employer.

You will also need to sign a form attesting that you wrote the information at the bottom of the form. This is your signature attesting that you have read and understood the instructions on the form and then you will also need to sign to indicate that you verified the information is correct.

Addresses for you and your employer.

The date.

The type of work you do (whether or not you have ever been convicted of a felony).

Whether or not you have ever been fired for a reason other than gross misconduct.

Any questions you have regarding worker’s compensation (will depend on if company has workers’ compensation insurance).

Section 2: Employee Information

Addresses for you and your current employer.

Address for any destination work.

Social security number.

Other numbers (for example, driver’s license number and passport number).

Section 3: Employment Authorization and Section 11 Arrangement

Employee’s name.

Address (must be a residential address; you cannot use a PO box).

I-9 Form Section 2: Employer or Authorized Representative Review & Verification

This section is for employers.

The I-9 form allows your employer to confirm that your identification is valid, as well as your name, job title, company name, and business address. If your employer does not verify your information, you can be turned down for employment at any workplace. This section is also important if you’re replacing your current I-9 form. The completed I-9 form, original signature pages and all replacement pages must be submitted to the employer as soon as possible.

In this tutorial, we use Evernote as an example of how to fill out the I-9 form with the smart reminder feature. In step 3 we will teach you how to sign your form.

Section 3: Reverification & Rehires

Check to see if you already have a Notice of Action (NOA) number from a prior I-9. An NOA must supercede any other I-9 warnings or NOA and can be given by USCIS after the person has completed a G-28 (new hire) or a G-1145 (new contract), can be a G-744 (individual with no inspection history or no inspection history in the last five years) or a G-970 (no ETA, but a prior NOA).

If you have more than one NOA number, you should identify the most recent NOA number. If you do not have any NOA numbers, enter an ID.

On the next section, place the I-9 number.

Section 4: Notice to Appear (NTA) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)

If you received a notice that you are in an ETA/NOID status and you don’t have a NOA number, you should enter B currently have an ETA/NOID and no NOA number. If you have moved since the last ETA or NOID, then you should place the date you began the new I-9 process.

Section 5: Verify Employment Eligibility

Verify Form Is Completed Correctly & File

Once you’ve verified that the form is completed correctly, and in case you’re hesitant to file the paper version, or forget it at home, you can do all of this electronically instead. Here are two lightweight options that require very little effort.

Once you’ve verified that the form is completed correctly, and in case you’re hesitant to file the paper version, or forget it at home, you can do all of this electronically instead. Here are two lightweight options that require very little effort.

{1}. E-Verify … You can verify your work eligibility with a single click of the mouse. Adobe’s E-verify driver makes it easy for you to complete this form and submit it electronically. The e-verify driver also doubles as a standalone identity verification workflow to ensure accuracy and sensitivity.
{2}. Multi-Step Case File … This is one of the more comprehensive options for filling out the I-9 form. The multi-step case file may be a bit overwhelming since it lists down all the required documentation and forms, but it’s technically a lot easier than filling out the paper version.

How to Verify I-9 Form Is Complete & Correct

This post is intended for people who are required to complete the I-9 Form for employment. If you’re an employer, the I-9 Form is looked at by the I-9 Compliance Officers (the folks who ensure all employers are in compliance with the Immigration and Nationality Act) when reviewing an employee’s employment eligibility to work in the US.

The I-9 Form is required by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to verify employment eligibility of US employers regarding their employees.

By law, all employers are required to complete the I-9 Form. It is only after the I-9 Form is completed that you can employ the individual.

The I-9 Form is used by the Immigration and Nationality Act to verify employment eligibility. While the form is used by both employers and employees, the I-9 Form is much more complicated than the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Form 7 document.

Each year, many people who are completing the I-9 Form for the first time get confused while completing the questions. Some are confused about the format of the form, some are clueless about the guidelines, and some are scared because they think they have missed out on a question.

Verify the Employee’s I-9 Form Manually vs. E-Verify

Vs. Paper Filing

Common Forms of I-9 Verification from the Government

The I-9 form is the most commonly used form for verifying the employment eligibility of a person hired for employment in the United States. The identification document and information must be uploaded on the I-9 form. This document is also known as the document for US employment eligibility verification form.

The procedure for I-9 Form must be followed by any business which wants to obtain I-9 Form for their employees. The employee is required to present and provide their identification documents and other information for verification. The printed I-9 form is a paper form and must be submitted to the concerned US government agency. A copy of the paper I-9 form is also required to be submitted to the employer of the employee.

There are many sub-category documents available on the I-9 form for the business. These documents are divided further into two or more categories.

The employer will decide whether to verify the employee through the federal government database of the I-9 form or the business may decide to verify the employee using the identity information included with the I-9 form. The decision to verify an employee manually or through the E-verify program has certain consequences.

Where to File I-9 Forms

Where to file I-9 is a common question for many employers. Certain employers may have a policy or process for where to file I-9 forms, but for most employers that doesn’t apply.

Informal desk searches and other areas of the workplace can be sources of I-9 forms. Those employers should therefore understand the basic principals of I-9 (i.e., the form, filing requirements, where to file, etc.).

Additional policies may apply. Such policies may be found in part at the employer’s handbook, or on websites communicating particular policies (for example, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website for I-9 compliance information).

Additional sources for policies may include state labor department publications.

Employers’ websites may communicate policies from third-parties.

Where to File I-9 Forms

I-9 Supplements are due 15 days after the original Form I-9 is approved. I-9s require that the employee be able to answer each question and sign their own name confirming they are legally eligible to work in the US.

All I-9 information must be available for a manual search, but the wording and syntax for the I-9 questions may vary, and the copies made for the employee are not required to be in a particular format.

When to Delete I-9 Forms

It’s important to know when to delete i-9 forms. If you’ve already used I-9 forms in the past, you’ll know how important it is to handle them correctly. You must be careful when deleting I-9 forms. If you don’t delete the forms properly, you’ll run the risk of a little red line popping up on the screen asking if you’d like to continue. Running the risk of having to use the forms again in the future is another reason why you shouldn’t delete the forms prematurely.

That being said, the risk of needing to use the forms again is small. Companies in some industries, like federal agencies, generally need to use the forms every year. If an employee is hired for a new, full time position, he or she will usually need to receive the forms by the end of the first month on the job. On average, that means it’s wise to save I-9 forms for at least a month. If your company only uses the forms yearly, there’s no need to hold onto them.

After that, the I-9 forms you delete are considered discarded and you can dispose of them without incident. However, there are still a few important reasons why you should be careful.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About How to Fill Out I-9 Forms

Are we required to keep copies of the documents presented?

Yes. As a general rule, you should keep all documents presented to you during the hiring process. This includes documents presented to you for I-9, as well as the Notice of Right to Sue form (Form I-844). If you have any questions as to which documents you should keep, talk to your employer or contact your HR department. You should also make sure to save these documents in a safe place, as you may need them for your future proof you satisfy the required documentation. You should also keep your original W-4 and W-2 pay stubs, as well as any pay stubs you have regarding non-pay items such as overtime, bonuses, and allowances.

Documents for I-9

All workers in the U.S. must complete I-9 forms. It is important to understand that the I-9 form must be used for each employer during the employment authorization process, and spaces will not be shared. Although a worker’s documentation may be exhausted during one visit, it will not need to be reviewed again with a new employer.

As mentioned earlier, the I-9 form will ask the worker to complete the Basic Personal Data section. For this section, the worker will need to provide:

Name (the name on the Social Security card)

Date of birth (two documents are accepted: the card used to obtain the social security number or passport)

What if they don’t present the required documents?

If they don’t present the required documents, you should refer them to the following sub-sections. If they have all the documents, you can move on to the next step.

STEP 4 … Review of Documents.

In this step, you are supposed to review the documents presented. Remember, that regardless of the form you are filling out, the most important part is the analysis of whether the presented documents reflect that the person is willing to work in the United States. So, here are some of the things you should check.

Are the documents related to the job description?

Is the profile and application form related to the job description? In fact, according to the ARD® Position Statement, the position profile should be based on the job description and so, the position statement should be used to write the job description. In addition, it should be a reasonable description of the position to ensure that the duties consistent with the incumbent’s job description and should consist of all the accepted duties those that the person has been performing.

Many job seekers while filling out the profile, prepare a general job description that includes all the duties that are necessary to fill the vacancies. They generally include the duties that are necessary to ensure the job candidate – and his or her references – are identified as the best.

What if I think the documents they provided are fake?

It is the employer’s responsibility to verify the I-9 forms that you provide are valid. If you show them something that is not a legitimate document, you must tell them so.

They have the right to reject I-9 forms that they think are not authentic.

If they do not accept your proof, then they can call the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or you can call the USCIS yourself.

{1}. Before going to the USCIS, be sure to reference the list of acceptable documents by the agencies that you work for to avoid making a trip to the office. In some cases, the agency that you work for may give you the list of documents that are required.
{2}. Do your homework and find out the phone number of the USCIS. Each regional office has a different number, so be sure that you choose the one that you belong to.

To verify the phone number of the USCIS contact the USCIS.

Call the USCIS phone number and ask for their verification process.

To find the USCIS phone number for your area, follow the links provided below:

California:

Arizona:

New Mexico:

Texas:

What happens if I don’t complete the forms correctly and am audited?

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) make their determination of whether or not a person is legally present in the US based on the information submitted on the I-9 forms. If the form is not filled out properly, the people completing them will be vulnerable to being placed in deportation proceedings.

The form should be completed exactly as it is instructed. If there is any doubt, it is better to err on the side of caution and fill it out correctly. The people most likely to be audited are the employees, non-employees, and students, the last of which are considered unauthorized workers. These people are mandated to fill out the I-9 forms. Once a person has completed a form, signed it and submitted it to the employer, they cannot change any of it. It is best to follow the instructions carefully and completely. The intent of the respondents is to provide accurate information. This maximizes the chance of not getting a penalty and receive clearances. It also increases the chance of a person remaining professionally and legally in the country.

Furthermore, if the person is working for another company and is not the real person, both the owner of the company and the person should face criminal charges.

Bottom Line

Federal law requires that you have all the employees whose wages you pay fill out this I-9 Form. As an employer, you’re responsible for making sure that the information you get is correct and complete. Being in compliance with the law can not only protect your business, it can also help you if there is an audit. An I-9 audit can be a lengthy and difficult process.

The I-9 form must be available in your workplace until the last day of each month.

To fully understand what this form is all about, first let’s look at what is required for you to complete it. Here are the basic steps employers must use to process the I-9 form:

Step 1… Provide a legible copy of the I-9 form to each employee at the beginning of the new hire's employment. You can furnish the form to the employee using a variety of methods, but the most common is to hand-deliver them to the employee (if possible). This step must be done the first time the employee completes the form.