I read about a new federal law that changes the requirements for the Employment Eligibility Verification Form, I-9. What are the changes?


The Immigration Reform and Control Act requires all U.S. employers to verify the employment eligibility and identity of all employees hired to work in the United States. Employers are required to complete the I-9 Form for all employees, including U.S. citizens.

­HR 4306 is the new law you read about. It was enacted in October 2004 and will take effect either 180 days after enactment (April 28, 2005) or the date on which final regulations implementing the Act are issued, whichever is earlier. This new law allows more options for completing the I-9 employment verification process.

Currently, completed I-9s must be stored in paper form or microfilm/microfiche form.  HR 4306 will allow both the electronic completion and storage of I-9s.

Unde­r the new law:

  • An electronic signature may be used by both the employee and the employer to attest to an electronic Form I-9;
  • Employers are allowed to maintain I-9s in PDF or other electronic formats; and
  • Employers are allowed to convert and maintain existing paper I-9s into electronic formats.

Employers are still required to personally examine and verify original employment eligibility documents (or certified copies, in the case of birth certificates) in paper form. After examining acceptable documents, the employer must record on the I-9 Form the document title, issuing authority, document number, expiration date (if any), and date employment begins.

General Guidelines Relating to I-9 Forms:

  • Employers cannot discriminate against any individual (other than a person who is not authorized to work in the U.S.) in hiring, discharging, recruiting, or referring for a fee because of that individual’s national origin or citizenship status.
  • Employers cannot specify which documents they will accept from an employee. The employee may provide any of the documents specified as “acceptable” by the United States Customs and Immigration Service.
  • The refusal to hire an individual because of a document’s future expiration date may also constitute unlawful discrimination.
  • Employers do not need to obtain an I-9 for independent contractors and their employees if the workers meet the definition of “independent contractors” within the meaning of federal law.
  • New employees must complete Section 1 of the I-9 no later than the close of business on their first day of work.  The employer must examine evidence of identity and employment eligibility and complete Section 2 of the I-9 within three business days of the date employment begins.
  • Copies of the official Form I-9 can be ordered from the federal government at 1-800-870-3676 or downloaded online at under Forms.
  • Currently, I-9 forms are published only in English.
  • I-9s are not filed with any government agency but they must be stored and maintained at the worksite or at the employer’s headquarters. An employer must be able to deliver applicable I-9s to a given worksite within three days (72 hours) when requested by the Citizenship and Immigration Service, the Department of Labor, or other applicable governmental agencies.
  • Employers are required to maintain I-9 records on file for three years from an employee’s date of hire or one year after an employee’s separation from his or her employment with the company, whichever is later.  Therefore, employers are required to keep I-9s for: (a) all current employees, and (b) all separated/terminated employees within the retention period.
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