Becoming Legal : A guide to the new immigration law in the workplace : What Employers Must Do Under the New Law

The Form Itself

This part of form I-9 is made up of three sections.

The employer must examine the employee's identification and work authorization documents, check the appropriate box and write down the identification number and expiration date of this document or documents.

In the second section, the I-9 form has three lists headed A, B and C. The A list contains documents that may establish both identity and permission to work. The B list contains documents that may establish identity only and the C list contains documents that may establish authorization to work only.

If the employee presents a document included in list A, the employee must check the appropriate box, write down the document's identification number and expiration date and go on to the last part of the employer part of the form.

If, instead, the employee presents different documents for proving identity and permission to work, the employer must check the appropriate boxes in lists B and C and write down the documents' identification numbers and expiration dates before proceeding to the final part of the form.

In the last part of the employer's section of Form I-9, the employer must give his name, address and title. He must also sign and date the document.

When to Fill Out I-9

As of May 31, Form I-9 must be filled out within the first three days of the new worker's employment, whether he is a citizen or not.

In the event that the new employee is unable to present the necessary documents as a result of loss or misplacement, the INS suggests that the employee present a receipt showing that he is in the process of obtaining the necessary documents. The employee must submit these documents to the employer within 21 days of the date of employment.

In the event that employment is to be for less than three days, document verification must be completed before the end of the first working day.

Employer Deadline

The INS has established a deadline of Sept. 1, 1987, for employers to complete the I-9 forms for all employees employed after Nov. 6, 1986, and who remain on their payrolls after May 31, 1987.


Due to a federal court order, any person who states to the employer that he qualifies for amnesty and expresses his intention to apply for legalization is allowed to work until Sept. 1, 1987.

This statement must be entered on Form I-9 and must be made in the following manner:

In the employee's section, the employee must check the box next to No. 3 and write the words "special rule" in the space for writing the alien number, and write Sept. 1, 1987, in the space provided for the work permit expiration date.

In the employer's part, the employer must write "special rule" in list C in the space provided for document identification, and write Sept. 1, 1987, in the space provided for the expiration date.

After Sept. 1, 1987, however, both the employer and the employee must update the I-9 form.

Saving I-9 Forms

INS rules provide that I-9 forms must be retained by the employer for a minimum of three years, or one year after the employee's termination.

The I-9 form will also be valid for a period of three years, allowing the employer to employ the same person again during this three-year period without having to fill out new I-9 forms, as long as the person continues to be authorized to work in the country.

Official Inspection

The I-9 forms must be shown, upon oral request and a showing of credentials, to INS or Labor Department officials.

INS rules provide that government officials do not need warrants in order to carry out these inspections, but they do allow the company or employer three days to comply with the request.

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