Completing the I-9 with your new hire

You have positions to fill in your Louisiana business, and your hiring process has produced the most qualified applicants for the job. However, one of them is not a citizen of the U.S. Does this make a difference? Actually, it can be a very serious violation of the law if you knowingly hire anyone who is ineligible to work in the U.S. because they lack the appropriate immigration status.  

It is your responsibility as an employer to make a good faith effort to obtain the information to prove whether your new employee can legally work in the U.S. You can do so by completing an I-9 form with every newly hired employee. If your business is audited or investigated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and you do not have an I-9 form for every employee, you may face costly penalties. 

Proof of eligibility 

You must follow a specific timeline for completing the I-9 form during the hiring process. For example, it is not appropriate to discuss Section One of the form until you have made a formal offer of employment and set a date for your new hire to start work. Section One asks for the employee’s basic information, Social Security number, and citizenship or residence status. Once your employee has returned Section One, you must check to see that it is complete and accurate before addressing Section Two. 

Section Two must be complete within three days of the first day of work for your new hire. This part of the form requires the employee to present valid documentation proving eligibility to work in the U.S. For citizens, this may include a passport, driver’s license, Social Security card and birth certificate. Those who are not citizens may present one of the following: 

  • A permanent resident card or green card 
  • An Employment Authorization Card with a valid expiration date showing 
  • A foreign passport with the appropriate temporary stamps or notations for employment eligibility 
  • A foreign passport and a Form I-94 with matching information 

You must check these documents thoroughly for authenticity, making sure they are originals with seals or watermarks and not copies. Make copies of these documents for your files and return the originals to the employee. If you are unsure of whether a document is valid, the USCIS has resources available to help you make that determination. It is wise to keep your employee files complete and organized to remain in compliance with immigration laws.