Whether you are a hiring manager or an employee, you have likely seen at least one Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. After all, most U.S. employers have a legal obligation to verify all new hires’ identities and work eligibility within the first three days of employment.
When completing the first section of the I-9, employees must designate whether they are U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, or other individuals with valid work authorization. They must also provide documents from the I-9’s List of Acceptable Documents that prove they are who they say they are and have the authorization to work in the U.S.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act, the 1986 law that establishes the I-9 framework, outlaws immigration status discrimination. Provided employees can prove they have valid work authorization, most employers may not use the I-9 process to discriminate against U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents or other authorized workers.
Employees have the flexibility to choose which document or combination of documents they want to present for I-9 purposes. Requesting different documents or additional ones may violate anti-discrimination provisions of federal law. There are exceptions, however. For example, employers who use the E-Verify program may need additional documentation to complete employment eligibility verification.
In most cases, employers do not have to reverify the identities and work eligibility of employees when I-9 documents expire. Doing so may constitute discrimination. Nevertheless, if employees’ temporary work eligibility expires, employers typically have a legal duty to ensure they have received an extension.
While the I-9 seems straightforward, it can be challenging to perform employment eligibility verification correctly. Ultimately, if employers make mistakes, affected employees may have grounds to file a discrimination complaint.