When you start a new job, there is a good chance your employer will ask you to complete an I-9 form. After all, employers with at least four employees have an affirmative obligation to verify the identity and work eligibility of all new workers. They may not, however, use the I-9 process to discriminate against you.
The I-9 employment eligibility verification form has three sections. The first section requires you to provide some basic information about yourself. You also must inform your employer of whether you are a citizen, legal permanent resident or an individual with another type of work authorization. The second section of the I-9 is for your employer to complete. To properly complete that part, your employer must examine documentation that proves both your identity and work eligibility.
The federal government does not want to erect unnecessary barriers to employment in the United States. As such, federal law allows you to provide any document or combination of documents that meet the I-9 standard. To know which documents are acceptable, you may refer to the published List of Acceptable Documents. As long as you provide sufficient documentation from either column A or column B plus column C, your employer may not ask you to provide additional or different documents.
Some employers participate in the federal government’s E-Verify program. This program allows your employer to verify your work eligibility by comparing the information you provide to the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security databases. If your employer participates in E-Verify, you may need to provide additional documentation to receive confirmation from the system. Your employer must follow specific rules when requesting documentation for E-Verify purposes, though.
While your employer usually may not request specific documentation for I-9 purposes, an HR manager may request certain documents for other reasons. For example, your employer may ask you to provide your Social Security card to ensure proper processing of payroll. When your employer asks you for specific documents, though, he or she should explain the request.
Your employer likely must complete and retain an I-9 form for you. Still, your employer may not violate federal law by requesting specific or additional documentation. If you think your boss is using the I-9 process to discriminate against you, you may need to act quickly both to protect your legal rights and keep your job.