Complete Guide to the I-9 Acceptable Documents

Posted by | Updated on August 25, 2022

The United States citizenship and immigration services form I -9 is the Employment Eligibility Verification. An I-9 form should be completed and filed by all US employees for every employee they hire to work in the United States. Each person on an employer’s payroll should have the I-9 form filed.

To file the forms, you will be asked to submit certain documents which will be used to identify and prove your eligibility to work. All employees must have an I-9 form at all times, mainly when the employer receives an ICE I-9 compliance audit or wage and hour audit from the department of labor.

Form I-9 Acceptable Documents Explained

There are three lists of acceptable documents to file the I-9 form. These are to verify the employment authorization of individuals hired to work in and for the United States. You can either submit a document selected from List A or a combination of documents from list B and C. The documents from A establish both your identity and eligibility, whereas the ones from list B establish identity and the ones from list C establish eligibility. Hence, the combination.

Documents That Establish Identity and Work Authorization

A single document from list A would be sufficient for both. In contrast, you need to submit one document from List B and one from List C for identity and work authorization establishment. These are simple documents like passport and resident cards that you already have with you.

Documents That Establish Identity or Work Authorization

Documents from list B establish your identity, whereas documents from list C establish your work authorization, i.e., eligibility. If you are not submitting documents from list A, a combination of documents from lists B and C is a must.

Form I-9 Acceptable Documents List A

Below is a list of I-9 acceptable documents from List A and further explanations of particular documents where applicable.

  • Valid U.S. Passport
  • U.S. Passport Card
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Alien Registration Receipt Card with Photo (Form I-551)
  • Valid Foreign Passport with I-551 Stamp or Form I-94 
  • Valid Employment Authorization Document with photo (Form I-766)
  • Valid Employment Authorization Card Passport from the FSM or RMI

Permanent Resident Card

  • Before May 1st, 2017, cards used to have the individual’s signature displayed on them until USCIS made a change to remove the signatures from the cards starting May 1st, 2017. Unless your card has crossed the expiration date, any card from before or after May 2017 will be accepted.
  • Cards issued after April 2010 may or may not contain the individual’s signature. Still, irrespective of the signature, you can submit a permanent resident card if it has not expired.
  • A USCIS issued Permanent Resident Card with a ‘signature waived’ notation is also acceptable
  • A USCIS issued Permanent Resident Card with a USCIS sticker extending its validity can also be submitted.

Valid Foreign Passport with I-551 Stamp or Form I-94

For certain aliens who are authorized to work with restrictions. You should also attach the documents which indicate an unexpired employment authorization.

Nonimmigrant Alien Authorized to Work for a Specific Employer

For a nonimmigrant alien authorized to work for a specific employer because of their status:

  • Foreign passport
  • Form I-94 or Form I-94A*

* If Form I-94A has the same name as the passport and an endorsement of the alien’s nonimmigrant status as long as that endorsement period has not yet expired, and the proposed employment is not in conflict with any restrictions or limitations identified on the form.

Valid EAD Issued by the United States DHS

For a nonimmigrant alien with an unexpired Employment Authorization Document issued by the United States Department of Homeland Security that includes a photograph (Form I-766):

Form I-9 Acceptable Documents List B

Below are the I-9 acceptable documents for List B:

  • Driver’s license or identification card*
  • Federal or state identification card**
  • School identification card with photograph
  • US Armed Services identification card or draft record
  • Voter Registration Card
  • US Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card
  • Native American tribal document
  • Driver’s license issued by a Canadian government authority
  • Trusted traveler documentation

* That is issued by a US state or outlying possession of the US, which contains a photograph or identifying information like the individual’s name, date of birth, sex, height, eye color, and address

** The card should contain a photograph or identifying information such as name, date of birth, sex, height, eye color, and address

List B Documents for Individuals Under the Age of Eighteen

For individuals under the age of eighteen, the documents to be provided to establish identity are;

  • School record or report card
  • Clinic, doctor, or hospital record
  • Day-care or nursery school record

If the presenter is a minor or someone with a disability, a special notation can be used in place of list B documents if they cannot produce any of the above documents.

Form I-9 Acceptable Documents List C

Below is a list of the I-9 acceptable documents from List C: 

  • A US Social Security Card*
  • A birth certificate issued by the US State Department (Form FS-545 or Form DS-1350)
  • Original or certified copy of a birth certificate** 
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240)
  • A Certificate of US Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561)
  • A Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
  • Native American tribal document,
  • US Citizen ID Card (Form I-197),
  • ID Card for the use of a Resident Citizen in the United States (Form I-179)
  • Valid Employment Authorization Card issued by DHS***
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240)

* Unless it indicates one of the following: “ Not valid for employment; “Valid for work only with INS authorization”; or  “Valid for work only with DHS organization”

** The birth certificate must be: issued by a State, county, municipal authority, or territory of the United States bearing an official seal; or from the US or outlying possession of the US, bearing an official seal

*** Excluding any documents listed on List A

When to Submit Your I-9 Documents

These documents must be submitted within three business days of when employment begins. If the employee is not able to present the documents within the given three-day time period, they can submit a receipt for the application of document or documents and then proceed to submit the document or documents within 90 days. The employers must retain the submitted documents for three years from the hire or at least one year till the employment date ends.

You may also get a friend or family member to be your authorized representative. The representative’s job will be to review the documents submitted for the form and sign the second part of the I-9 form on behalf of the employer. The documents submitted for the I-9 form will be verified in person for employers who physically report to the workplace regularly.

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Final Thoughts

The I-9 form is a necessary employment-related form. Every US employer should have their employees fill it out and give proper documentation to file them with the authorities as needed.

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