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I-9 forms do not have to be filled out on applicants, just on newly-hired employees.
Recent I-9 rule from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security: only documents that are unexpired when shown can be used for I-9 purposes (once shown, a U.S. passport, an alien registration receipt card/permanent resident card, or a List B document does not need to be reverified, even if it expires after the employee was hired; other types of documents need to be reverified after expiration).
An employer has up to three (3) business days following hire to get the I-9 form filled out. The employer should have the new employee complete the first section of the I-9 work authorization form at the time of hire, which means at the very beginning of employment, before any work is done, and the employer must complete section 2 within the first three days of employment (or at the beginning of employment, if the job is supposed to last three days or less).
Follow all instructions on the form exactly - omissions or even minor clerical errors can result in potential sanctions.
If a new hire shows the documentation listed on the form, the I-9 requirements are satisfied; the employer should not make the mistake of requiring documentation above and beyond what is shown on the I-9 form (what the government calls "document abuse").
"Providing a Social Security number on Form I-9 is voluntary for all employees unless you are an employer participating in the USCIS E-Verify program. Providing an e-mail address or telephone number is voluntary. ... You may not ask an employee to provide you a specific document with his or her Social Security number on it. To do so may constitute unlawful discrimination." (See USCIS Publication M-274, I-9 Handbook for Employers, page 3 - http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/m-274.pdf).
Always use the latest available version of the I-9 form (download it at http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf).
If the employer makes copies of the documents shown by the employee, it should keep them in a separate I-9 file in case of a CIS (formerly known as INS) audit.
The employer is not required to be a document-authentication expert; as long as the employer satisfies itself in good faith that the documents are genuine and satisfy the requirements, that is all that is needed.
I-9 records must be kept for three years following the date of hire, or for one year after the employee leaves, whichever is later - recommended: keep this and all employment records for at least 7 years after the employee leaves in order to exhaust all the statutes of limitation.
E-Verify is an optional I-9 program whose participating employers enjoy certain benefits in terms of work authorization verification and relief from sanctions - details are at http://www.uscis.gov/e-verify.
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