Form I-9 Employer Guidelines

Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment. All US employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire. Incomplete, incorrect or missing Forms I-9 can result in monetary penalties to your organization. Instructions for completing Form I-9 are available at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

The following are some general guidelines for completing and maintaining Form I-9 for your employees.


  • Form I-9 is required to be completed by the employee and employer within three working days of the employee’s date of hire. This includes proper inspection of the employee’s identity and employment eligibility documents by the employer.
  • Form I-9 is required to be kept on file by the employer through the individual’s employment. Once employment has ended, the Form I-9 must be kept for three years after the employee’s date of hire OR one year after the employee’s separation, whichever is later.


  • Employees must provide documents which verify their identity AND their employment authorization in the US. A list of acceptable documents is available on page 4 of the Form I-9 available able at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
  • Employees must be allowed to choose which document(s) they will provide. Employers are not permitted to direct employees on which documents to provide. If an employee provides multiple eligible documents, the employer should request the employee to select which document(s) they prefer to use.
  • Employees may provide one document from List A, which verifies both identity and employment authorization, OR they may choose one item from List B to verify identity AND one item from List C which establishes employment authorization.
  • Employers may choose to maintain copies of all verification documents OR no verification documents. Whichever method the employer uses, they must be consistent in their practice.

Competing the Form

  • Ensure that your organization is using the most current Form I-9.
  • The employee only may complete section 1. The employer should check this section carefully after the employee has completed it to ensure there are no errors or omissions. If any errors are found, the employer should instruct the employee to make a single line through the error, write in the correct information, and date and initial the correction.
  • Employees may not use a PO Box for their address. They must use a physical address (Street name and number).
  • Use the mm/dd/yyyy date format; for example, December 11, 2018 should be recorded as 12/11/2018 and not 12/11/18.
  • The employer is responsible for completing section 2. Again, ensure that all necessary fields are complete and correct date formats are used. If an error is made, put a single line through the error, fill in the correct information and initial and date the correction.

For a complete guide on completing Form I-9, visit You also may contact Carleen Mitchell at APEI with any I-9 related questions at