Handling I-9 Forms

Notaries are frequently requested to notarize I-9 forms and are often confused by the lack of a notarial certificate on the form that would allow them to perform the notarial act and affix their seal. This article will clarify the proper way to handle I-9 forms.

The purpose if the I-9 form is to verify employment eligibility. It is created by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. It requires that an employer (or an authorized representative) inspect proof of identification and eligibility to work in the United States and document that proof on the form. Its use is federally mandated for all employers, who frequently require employees to complete it on their first day of work.

The I-9 form itself does not require notarization, but clients often ask notaries to fill out these forms under the impression that the verification of identification requirement should be verified by a notary. Some states prohibit notaries from completing these forms. However, if your state allows it, you should first obtain something in writing from the employer designating you as an authorized representative for the purposes of verifying employment eligibility on an I-9 form. Even if you are completing the form in that capacity, you should never use your seal or the title "Notary Public."

To complete the form (click here to view a sample), the employee must fill out Section 1 with his or her personal information. You, as the notary, complete Section 2 as an authorized representative by entering one of the employee's identification methods from List A. If the employee has no documents from List A, you should enter one item from List B and one item from List C. Page 3 of the form lists the types of documents that fall under each list. You should properly describe the identification presented by completing all of the blanks in Section 2. You will then sign form, clearly stating the title "Authorized Representative."

As always, be sure to consult state and federal laws or refer your client to an immigration attorney if there are any unanswered questions about the form.

By Robert T. Koehler, a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries, Inc.

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