I. What is Form I-9?

Form I-9 is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services form used to verify employment eligibility. It is used by employers to verify an employee's identity and to establish whether that worker is eligible to be employed in the United States.


In 1986, Congress reformed the U.S. immigration laws focusing on the preservation of the tradition of legal immigration while closing the door on illegal entry. The employer sanction provisions (found in Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act) were added by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). These provisions further changed with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1990 and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

Employment is often the magnet that attracts individuals to reside in the United States illegally. The purpose of the employer sanctions law is to remove this magnet by requiring employers to hire only individuals who may legally work here: U S citizens, noncitizen nationals, lawful permanent residents, and aliens authorized to work. To comply with the law, employers must verify the identity and employment authorization of each person they hire, complete and retain a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for each employee, and refrain from discriminating against individuals on the basis of national origin or citizenship.

Form I-9 helps employers to verify individuals who are authorized to work in the United States. You, as an employer, must complete a Form I-9 for every new employee you hire after November 6, 1986.

The Homeland Security Act

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 created an executive department combining numerous federal agencies with a mission dedicated to homeland security. On March 1, 2003, the authorities of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) were transferred to three new agencies in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS): U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).The two DHS immigration components most involved with the matters discussed on this website are USCIS and ICE.USCIS is responsible for most documentation of alien employment authorization, for Form I-9, and for the E-Verify employment eligibility verification program. ICE is responsible for enforcement of the penalty provisions of section 274A of the INA and for other immigration enforcement within the United States.

Information from USCIS Handbook for Employers, M-274