Who Is Eligible To Work In The U.S.

It is estimated that in recent years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) worksite investigations have nearly quadrupled. With statistics like these, employers must be more committed than ever to ensuring employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S.

This responsibility can be overwhelming for employers; however, the federally mandated use of a Form I-9 sets forth specific guidelines to help employers determine an employee’s eligibility and keep the company compliant in the process.

Employers who have a clear understanding of what the Form I-9 is and how it works are taking critical first steps in keeping the company compliant with federal law. These actions combined with additional resources such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Handbook for Employers M-274 and digital I-9 software, should streamline the Form I-9 process and make keeping a compliant status more attainable.


The Form I-9 And Individuals Eligible to Work in the U.S.

Since the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was passed, it has been the law for employers to complete a Form I-9 and collect the required documentation for each employee. The form is designed to establish an employee’s identity and eligibility to work in the U.S.

There are three main parts to a Form I-9:

  • Section 1: This beginning section requires an employee to enter personal information. This section must be completed in its entirety by the employee’s first day of employment.  Employers must review this section for accuracy and ensure there are no incomplete fields, blank fields, or missing signatures.
  • Section 2: The second section must be completed within three days of the employee’s starting day. The employee is required to submit Form I-9 approved documents to the employer. The employer is then responsible for reviewing the documents with good faith to determine the document’s authenticity.
  • Section 3: The last section of the Form I-9 is primarily completed by employers in the case of a change in an employee’s status such as a legal name change, an expired work authorization, or a rehire within three years of the date listed on the original form.

By completing these sections of the Form I-9, following the directions to a tee, and ensuring all deadlines are met, employers can have more confidence that an employee is eligible to work in the U.S.


Paperwork Required for Eligibility

Section 2 of the Form I-9 requires an employee to submit approved documents to the employer to help establish identity. Approved documents are categorized into one of three designations: List A, List B, or List C.   All employees are required to submit at least one of these approved documents, and some employees may be required to submit two, based on which list the documents come from.

  • In general, List A documents help prove an individual’s identity and eligibility to work in the U.S. Some example documents that may be approved from List A can include a United States Passport, Foreign Passport, Resident Card, or Employment Authorization Document Card. Some of these documents will only be valid if specific guidelines are met, such as a proper signature or notation.
  • List B documents primarily help establish an individual’s identity. If an employee submits a document from List B, a document from List C is also commonly required. Examples of List B documents may include a U.S. driver’s license, voter registration card, military card, military dependent card, or official medical record for a minor. Some of these documents must meet certain requirements to be considered valid.
  • List C documents are usually submitted with List B documents. Examples of List C documents can include a U.S. social security card, certification of birth abroad, U.S. birth certificate, or citizen ID card. Many of these documents must be unrestricted, bear an official seal, or be issued by the U.S. Department of State to be valid.

By an employee submitting the proper Form I-9 approved documentation, employers are more easily able to determine if that employee is eligible to work in the U.S.


3 Ways Digital I-9 Software Can Help with Determining if an Employee is Eligible to Work in the U.S.

Properly filling out a Form I-9 and verifying the authenticity of approved identification documents can be time consuming and tedious. To help streamline the Form I-9 process and make it more user friendly, employers are increasingly turning to digital I-9 software. While enlisting the help of programs like these offers a number of key benefits, here are the top four ways digital I-9 software can help determine if an employee is eligible to work in the U.S.

  1. Advance Preparation. This type of software typically offers a printable checklist for employees to review in advance. This helps employees understand exactly what type of information will be required of them to complete the Form I-9. Employers also have access to a checklist to stay on top of the process from start to finish.
  2. On-Boarding Assistance. Digital I-9 software assists employers in terms of guidelines and deadlines associated with the three sections of the form. This may include time-sensitive deadline reminders and potential error alerts such as incomplete or blank fields and missing signatures.
  3. Tracking and management of I-9 forms and supporting documents.
  4. E-Verify Interface. The most advanced software packages will interface with E-Verify to give employers an extra resource in verifying an individual’s eligibility for employment in the U.S. The software’s interface should also auto-populate the E-Verify system to help minimize errors.


The Form I-9 was created to help employers determine if an employee is eligible to work in the U.S.  However, by using digital I-9 software to navigate the Form I-9, employers should be able to breathe a little easier with an added measure of peace of mind.

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