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Examining Documents

Employers and HR staff completing the I9 form process for a new hire face the difficult task of determining authenticity of a work authorization document(s). On one hand, an employer who blindly accepts a purported work authorization document which later turns out to be fraudulent faces penalties under the document fraud provisions and could be penalized for knowingly hiring an alien unauthorized to work. On the other hand, excessively scrutinizing and then rejecting a document that is valid exposes an employer to document abuse allegations and subsequent fines.

In the end, employer must tread carefully to avoid going to either extreme. To assist in the review of work authorization documents, employers should ask the following questions when examining a new hireís proof of valid work authorization.


Is the document(s) listed on list A or list B and list C on the back of the I9 form?  


Does the document relate to the employee? If the document has a picture, does the photo look like the new hire? If there is a description of the individual, does it match the new hire? Is the name the same?  


Does the document look like similar documents? If the document claims to be a driverís license, does it look like other driverís licenses?  Does it contain the same information or have the same format? Be aware, however, as there are different versions of ďgreen cardsĒ circulating. Employers need to exercise extreme caution and not inadvertently reject a valid version simply because itís one that the employer is unfamiliar with.  


Is the document an obvious forgery? HR staff should examine the document to make sure it hasnít been tampered with where a picture has been replaced or a name change, deletion, or modification has been made.

Employers can promote proper review and acceptance of work authorization documents by reviewing the samples shown in the I-9 handbook made available by the USCIS.


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