The Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) is required by federal immigration law. Employers are required to verify each employee’s identity and eligibility to work in the United States at the time of hire. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency enforces this requirement and can impose civil fines and criminal penalties for failure to comply with the law. In addition, non-compliance can result in the loss of federal contracts.
The University also participates in E-Verify, a federal program that allows employers to verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States. Information from the employee’s I-9 is submitted to E-Verify for verification. The hiring department must submit E-Verify for every new hire as well as for any current employee who begins working on a federal contract.
Hiring Department Responsibilities
All hiring managers and administrative support staff should be familiar with the federal deadlines for I-9 and E-Verify and the risks of non-compliance, as described on this page. Each hiring department is responsible for having procedures in place to collect the I-9 prior to, or no later than, the employee’s first work day.
The Form I-9 and E-Verify are done electronically through a third party vendor. Only HR Contacts and HR Contact Delegates have access to the web-based system.
Training for HR Contacts and Delegates is available on-demand
In addition, the federal government provides the I-9 Central webpage, the E-Verify User Manual (PDF) and the I-9 Handbook for Employers (PDF). These are easy to navigate resources with detailed explanations and illustrations.
Finally, HR Contacts and Delegates must be familiar with the paper version of the Form I-9 (PDF) and the Form I-9 Instructions. You should be prepared to provide the instructions included in the paper form to the employee while completing an electronic I-9.
Who is required to complete an I-9?
Every employee of the University must complete the Form I-9 and E-Verify at the time of hire. This includes staff, faculty, and student employees as well as casual and temporary workers who are paid by voucher or on a flat-rate basis. If you are unsure whether a person should be considered an employee or an independent contractor, please refer to the Employee/Independent Contractor Classification Checklist [PDF]. Please refer to the following paragraphs and the chart below to determine when an I-9 is needed and when a new one is required for returning employees.
Employees who leave the university need a new I-9 when they return to University employment, no matter how long the break in service/employment. There are some limited situations, explained below, where a new form is not required. Note that USCIS guidelines would permit us to do a Section 3 Update when a person is rehired within 3 years of separation, but only if E-Verify was performed on the previous I-9 and the previous I-9 is still an acceptable version of the form. Failure to perform E-Verify for a rehire is a serious compliance error! It is University practice to complete a new hire I-9 and E-Verify when an employee is rehired, even if the I-9 status is “Y” on the HRMS Employee Profile.
Continuation of / Interruption in Employment
In limited situations, the employee’s previous I-9 form is acceptable and no action is required. The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) sets strict guidelines for when the break in service can be defined as a continuation of the person’s previous employment. You can use the previous I-9 only if the break in service (interruption in employment) meets all of the following guidelines:
- Is the employee a faculty member, student, or seasonal/temporary employee?
- At the time of separation, was the employee expected to resume employment within a reasonable time in the future?
- Was the break in employment less than one year?
- The university retains the previous I-9 information in the employee record for one year after separation.
- If the employee’s status is “alien authorized to work in the United States,” has the employment authorization document used on the previous I-9 expired?
- Go to the Employee Profile page in HRMS. If the I-9 status is “Y,” the employment authorization has not expired.
When is a New I-9 Required?
|Situation||New I-9 Needed?|
|New employee including those paid by voucher||Yes|
|New international employee without a Social Security Number||Yes
(Complete Section 1 and Section 2, SAVE, Submit E-Verify when SSN is received)
|Returning after any break in service when no E-Verify on file||Yes|
|Returning after any break in service and was not expected to resume employment (whether E-Verify is on file or not)||Yes|
|Returning after less than one year break – E-Verify on file and was expected to return to the same job
(i.e. faculty, student, variable worker)
|Returning from unpaid time off – Family Medical Leave, Leave Without Pay, etc.||No|
Federal Deadlines for I-9 and E-Verify
The standard practice at the University is to complete the entire I-9 and E-Verify process prior to the employee’s first day of work, but not before the person has accepted employment.
Federal law requires the employee to complete Section 1 of the Form I-9 no later than the first day of work. The employee has until the third work day to present unexpired, original documents to prove identity and authorization to work in the United States. An HR Contact or Delegate, as a representative of the University, must view the documents and complete Section 2 of the I-9 no later than the third work day. Also, the information from the I-9 must be submitted to E-Verify no later than the third work day. If the employee will be working for less than three days, the entire I-9 process; Section 1 and Section 2, and submission to E-Verify must be complete by the first work day.
Risk of Non-Compliance
The University, the hiring department, and the hiring manager may be subject to the following penalties for non-compliance.
- Civil fines
- Criminal penalties
- Debarment from government contracts
It is important to follow these guidelines to avoid being accused of discriminatory practices. A person should never be asked to complete the I-9 until he or she has accepted employment with the University. Also, do not request specific documents. The employee is required to present acceptable, original documents from the I-9 List of Acceptable Documents, but the employee must be allowed to choose which documents to present.
Completing an Electronic I-9
HR Contacts, HR Contact Delegates, and Human Resources, Records and Onboarding staff are authorized to initiate the I-9 process and complete the I-9 and E-Verify as a representative of the University. Each department maintains its list of HR Contacts and Delegates in the OHS Contacts System.
Section 1: Employee Information and Verification
To be completed on the first day of work. Earlier is acceptable, but the form cannot be completed before the employee has been hired.
- Create a new electronic I-9 using i-9Compliance.com. If you want the employee to complete Section 1 before he/she comes to your office, go to the Queue tab in i-9Compliance.com and click Launch Request.
- Be sure to inform your new hire that he/she will be required to present a document or combination of documents from the list of acceptable documents no later than the third work day.
- Have a paper Form I-9 available so that the employee may refer to the form instructions and list of acceptable documents.
Section 2: Employer Review and Verification
To be completed no later than the employee’s third workday. Only the person who viewed the original documents from the I-9 List of Acceptable Documents can complete this section.
- Accept the first valid document or combination of documents presented. Accept only originals and do not ask for or accept more than is required.
- Record each document title, issuing authority, document number, and expiration date (if applicable).
- Enter the employment begin/hire date (month/day/year). Use the current date, if you are completing the form before the employee's actual first day of work.
- Click E-Verify to submit the form to E-Verify.
- If the employee is a non-citizen waiting for an SSN, click Save to retain the form. You will submit E-Verify when the SSN is received.
Section 3: Updating and Reverification
Use this section when the employee’s work authorization has changed or has a new expiration date. Section 3 updates will not require E-Verify.
When completing Section 2 or Section 3 of the I-9, the HR Contact must view original documents from the I-9 List of Acceptable Documents. Valid documentation for Section 2 is one selection from List A, or one selection from List B and one from List C.
- Accept the first valid document or combination of documents presented.
- Accept only originals and do not ask for or accept more than is required.
- Be sure the employee has signed the documents.
- List B documents must have a photo of the employee.
- Do not accept a Social Security Card if it has one of these restrictions printed on the card.
- NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT
- VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH INS AUTHORIZATION
- VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION
- If the employee presents one of these List A documents, you must upload a copy of the document to the I-9 record.
- US Passport
- Employment Authorization Card
- Permanent Resident Card
When the employee chooses to use a Foreign Passport, they must also present an I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. If the I-94 shows D/S in the Admit Until field, the employee must show a third document to prove they are authorized to work for UT Austin. This third document is typically an I-20 or DS-2019.
The employee must use his/her current legal name on the I-9. When a Social Security Card is used, the name on the card must match the name on the I-9 form. For other documents, you can accept them if they appear to be genuine and related to the individual who is presenting them, even if the person’s name has changed since the document was issued.
Once the new I-9 is complete, click E-Verify to initiate the verification process. You will find detailed instructions for E-Verify in the I-9 and E-Verify Overview training mentioned above. Be prepared to print documents as need, because certain E-Verify results require you to provide a notification to the employee.
The vast majority of E-Verify queries will result in an immediate response of “Employment Authorized.” Respond to the prompts on the screen to say whether the person is still employed or not employed, and the I-9 and E-Verify process is complete.
Occasionally the initial response from E-Verify will be “Tentative Non-Confirmation,” also called a TNC. Follow the tentative non-confirmation steps provided in the system.
- You must print the TNC notice and review it with the employee. The employee has the right to decide whether to contest the results or not.
- The employee has 8 work days in which to address the issue and notify you when it has been resolved. The employee must be allowed to continue working while the non-confirmation is being resolved.
- Check back regularly for final results.
If the employee chooses not to contest the results, or you receive a Final Non-Confirmation the person cannot continue employment. Contact Human Resources, Strategic Workforce Solutions (SWS) immediately. The person may not continue employment without confirmed authorization to work in the United States. Remember, an employee who chooses to contest the TNC cannot be dismissed unless they fail to resolve the issue or there is a final non-confirmation from E-Verify.
Verification in Process
On occasion, the initial response from E-Verify is Verification in Process. When this occurs, check the I-9 record daily until you receive a response. There will normally be a response from E-Verify within 24 hours.
If the employee presents a US Passport, Employment Authorization Card, or Permanent Resident Card, you may be prompted to confirm that the photo on the employee’s document matches the photo in government records. Compare the photo to the photo showing on the screen. The photo should match exactly, such as in hair style and clothing. If the photos do not match, the system will respond with a Tentative Non-Confirmation or other referral notice.
If you receive a final non-confirmation notice, or if the employee fails to resolve a TNC or other notification as instructed, contact Human Resources, Strategic Workforce Solutions (SWS) immediately. The person may not continue employment without confirmed authorization to work in the United States.
If you hire an employee who lives in a location where there are no other UT Austin employees, you will need to ask a local university or other employer to complete a paper I-9 on the University’s behalf. If there are other UT employees in the location, you can temporarily designate one as an HR Contact to complete the electronic I-9. Please work with Human Resources, Records if a remote I-9 is needed. Note that employees who work outside the United States are not required to complete an I-9.
It is imperative to coordinate with Human Resources, Records and Onboarding when collecting a paper I-9 for a remote employee. Here are the steps to follow:
- Ask another university or employer in the area to collect a paper I-9
- Fax the completed I-9 form to HR Records at 512-232-3524
- Send or deliver the original I-9 to HR Records, mail code J5600
- HR Records will submit E-Verify and notify you of the result
- All steps complete by the third work day
The original I-9 form must be sent to Human Resources to satisfy federal retention requirements. As with any new hire, all I-9 and E-Verify steps must be completed by the third work day.
Waiting for a Social Security Number
Remember that the I-9 must be completed at hire, no later than the third work day, even if the international employee does not have a social security number (SSN). US citizens must have a SSN before working for the University.
Once the international employee receives his or her SSN, take the following actions.
- Find the pending I-9 in Unprocessed Cases, and submit it to E-Verify. You will be prompted to enter the correct SSN for E-Verify.
- Open the Summary of the I-9 record and use the Update button to add the SSN to the I-9 record.
- Go to HRMS and update the employee’s biographical record with the new SSN.
The completed I-9 record will not be in University records until the SSN is on both the I-9 record and the employee biographical file.
Most federal contracts have a clause stating that any employee working on the contract must be checked in E-Verify. This is required even if the employee was hired before the University began using E-Verify for all new hires. If a current employee who begins working on a federal contract does not have an I-9 with E-Verify on file, you must do a new I-9 with that employee in order to complete the E-Verify requirement. This requirement does not apply to employees working under a federal grant. Contact Office of Sponsored Projects if you are not sure whether a contract has the E-Verify clause.