Reviewing and Verifying I-9 Documents

I-9 Compliance During COVID-19

Since March 20, USCIS has relaxed the rules on completing I-9s, allowing employers to review documents while not in the physical presence of the employee. The provision allowing this relaxed approach will expire on August 19. This presents two issues:

  1. Completing I-9s Processed During the Relaxed Provision
    Employers who used the relaxed provision must complete the I-9 process by physically reviewing the necessary documents within three days of a return to normal operations. The review must be documented on the I-9, adding "documents physically examined" with the date of inspection to the Section 2 Additional Information field on the Form I-9, or to Section 3 as appropriate. The definition of "return to normal operations " has not been defined by the government. We recommend that units focus now on completing these I-9s before the fall rush begins. To help, we will be providing you with reports of the I-9s completed during this period. Keep in mind that, if the employee is working on site at all, the documentation can be reviewed and completed by a supervisor or colleague on paper and uploaded into I-9 Express. These I-9s could also be completed using the Remote Employee Form I-9 Process by establishing an authorized representative to review the documentation in person.
  2. Completing I-9s After the Relaxed Provisions Expire
    Starting August 20, you will again be required to review I-9 documentation in the presence of the employee. Again, keep in mind that if the employee is in the physical presence of any other University employee, they can complete the I-9 on paper, including the review of documentation, and submit this to the unit's HR department to be uploaded into I-9 Express. Units can also use the Remote Employee Form I-9 Process.

Your Role as an I-9 Administrator

The University of Minnesota requires all newly hired students, staff, and faculty members, on or before their first day of work for pay, to complete the federal I-9 form and provide the required documentation showing they are eligible to work at the University. If the new hire doesn't provide these documents, they may not be allowed to start work or remain in the workplace until they have the documents and are able to complete the form.

To complete Section 2 of the Form I-9, University I-9 administrators must verify a new hire's I-9 documentation. The employer or its representative must personally review original documents only.

Original Documents

Photocopies (including fax copies) or numbers representing original documents are not acceptable. The only exception to the photocopy rule is a certified copy of a birth certificate.

The standard used to determine the genuineness of the documents for the I-9 process is reasonableness: The document must reasonably appear genuine on its face and relate to the person presenting it. Employers can reject documents that don't appear appropriate or genuine. Faculty, staff, and student workers who present questionable documentation should be asked for other documents to satisfy the I-9 requirements.

Document Choice

A faculty, staff, or student worker can choose to provide a "List A" document to show identity and employment authorization, or a "List B" document to show identity and a "List C" document to show employment eligibility. The documents cannot be expired. See the Employer Quick Reference Guide: Completing an Electronic I-9 With a New Hire (pdf) for a list of document choices.

International students, scholars, and visitors have different document requirements. See I-9 Process for Foreign National Faculty, Staff and Student Workers for more information on the document choices that fulfill I-9 requirements for foreign national employees.

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Copying Documentation

Although I-9 regulations allow employers to scan or make copies of the documents presented to show I-9 compliance, the University of Minnesota does not require copies of I-9 documentation for the online I-9 process.

Social Security Card Issues and Restrictions

The Social Security Administration issues Social Security numbers and cards to aliens only if they can present documentation of current employment authorization in the U.S. Lawful permanent residents, refugees, and asylees are issued unrestricted Social Security cards that are the same as those issued to U.S. citizens.

Some Social Security cards have restrictions on them and do not satisfy the I-9 requirements. [NH1] If that is the case, the faculty, staff, or student worker must show other documents to comply with the requirements. See I-9 Employment Authorization Requirements for more information on other documents that fulfill I-9 requirements for foreign nationals.

The employer must complete Section 2 of the I-9 by the end of the faculty, staff, or student worker's first day of work for pay. The following information must be recorded on the form:

  • Document title
  • Issuing authority
  • Document number
  • Expiration date (if any)
  • first day of work for pay

Verification: Signature and Date

The person who reviews the original documents must sign and date the I-9 form, whether that person is the employer or its agent (see Remote Employee I-9 Process Overview). The employer (or agent) is not attesting to the legitimacy of the person's status, but rather that the documents presented appear to be genuine and relate to the person presenting them.

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Documents No Longer Accepted

The following documents have been removed from the list of acceptable identity and work authorization documents and can no longer be used:

  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship ("List A")
  • Certificate of Naturalization ("List A")
  • Unexpired Reentry Permit ("List A")
  • Unexpired Refugee Travel Document ("List A")
  • Form I-151 has been withdrawn from circulation and is no longer an acceptable "List A" document. However, Form I-551 remains an acceptable "List A" document.

Note: Expired documents, such as an expired U.S. passport, are no longer acceptable. However, certain employment authorization cards may appear expired but have actually been extended under limited circumstances by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Two such forms are the I-766 and I-551.

Receipt Rule

If an original document has been lost, stolen, or damaged, a receipt showing the employee has applied for a replacement document can be accepted. The person must show the original replacement document within 90 days of hire.

For details on when receipts can be accepted for certain documents, see this page of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

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