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Table of Contents

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Even the smallest of errors on an I-9 form can result in costly fines for your company if you don’t comply. This is why choosing a qualified authorized representative to handle I-9 responsibilities is very important. Continue reading to find out what an I-9 authorized representative is, why they’re important and more.

What Is an I-9 Authorized Representative?

An I-9 authorized representative is someone designated by your company who can fill out and sign Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) on your behalf. An authorized representative can be especially helpful if you can’t be physically at the location where new employees are being onboarded. The authorized representative is responsible for ensuring that I-9 forms are filled out correctly. Complying with Form I-9 is a way employers document that they are hiring employees who are legally authorized to work in the United States.

Why Are I-9 Authorized Representatives Important?

I-9 authorized representatives are important for many reasons. Although there are a few exceptions, everyone your company hires is required to complete a Form I-9. This is why carefully designating a qualified authorized representative can make a large difference in your business. They help mitigate risk, they handle all I-9 responsibilities, and they are very effective when it comes to remote hiring.

  • They mitigate risk. I-9 authorized representatives save your company time and money by complying with Form I-9 rules. The ideal authorized representative is familiar with Form I-9 and ensures that it is filled out correctly. They help prepare your company in the event that an I-9 audit should occur (knock on wood).
  • They handle all I-9 responsibilities. Authorized representatives not only complete section 2 of Form I-9. They also make sure that the employee has filled out section 1 correctly. The authorized representative reviews identification and/or documents that employees provide from List A or List B and C. These documents must be provided by employees to prove their eligibility to work legally in the US. See this article for more about acceptable documents.
  • They can help with remote hiring. What if you can’t be physically onsite to finish hiring an employee or fill out section 2 of form I-9? Having an authorized representative helps your company comply with Form I-9 by completing and signing the form “within three business days of starting work for pay,” as the US Citizenship and Immigration Services requires. This is especially important because section 2 must be completed in person in order to physically handle employee-provided documents. The employee must also be physically present with the authorized representative while their documents are being examined.

Who Can Be an I-9 Authorized Representative?

Your I-9 authorized representative can be anyone that your company designates to complete and sign Form I-9 on behalf of the company. Keep in mind that the organization is liable for any violations that your authorized representative could potentially commit on your behalf. Choose someone you trust to comply with Form I-9 and its rules. Doing this first will save your company a lot of time and money.

Foreman or Project Manager

Having a foreman or project manager be an authorized representative can be especially helpful if you are remote and/or have multiple work locations. Taking the time to train them on how to complete Form I-9 and review documents is an extremely valuable practice. There are also many options for HRIS software available that can guide remote authorized representatives and make it easier for them to complete Form I-9.

A Personnel Officer

A personnel officer is someone in charge of recruiting or employee relations. This can be someone on your Human Resources team. Once you have a personnel officer established as your authorized representative, it may be beneficial to train a backup authorized representative to make certain you can complete the form within the new hires’ first three days of work.

A Notary Public

If your company designates a notary public as an authorized representative, it’s important to understand that they are acting as an authorized representative and not a notary. They don’t have to provide a notary seal, but they are required to perform the same actions that an authorized representative typically would.

How to Become an I-9 Authorized Representative

By taking the time necessary to review Form I-9 instructions, learn from others, and ask for feedback, you’ll help to put your authorized representative in a position to be a great asset to your organization.

Step 1: Review Form I-9 Instructions

The instructions for Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification are located on the USCIS website. They provide specific steps on how to complete section 1 (Employee Information and Attestation) and section 2 (Employer or Authorized Representative Review and Verification). They also cover the reverification and rehire process in section 3, along with the specific documents that can be presented in lists A or lists B and C.

Step 2: Watch and Learn

It’s a good idea to have your potential authorized representative watch a qualified individual who has completed an I-9 before as an employer or authorized representative. Have them take notes of what they say and how they interact with the new hire. There are many informative videos online as well that will walk them through completing Form I-9. USCIS even has their own YouTube channel.

Step 3: Ask to Be Watched

Once you’ve designated someone to be an authorized representative, prepared them by reviewing Form I-9 instructions, and had them observe someone familiar with the process, it’s time to put it into practice. As they complete Form I-9, provide feedback on how they can become better, review their notes, and keep learning! There are many details to Form I-9, and it can be difficult at first to understand everything required in order to complete it correctly.

Additional Info

It may also be beneficial to speak with an employer who has gone through an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audit. Employers generally learn a lot from these audits, and it can be a great idea to learn what to do and what not to do. As a best practice, many HR departments conduct internal I-9 audits in order to catch problems early on. If you do find incorrect information, the internal audit can help you correct and improve your practices and processes. Reviewing the audit is a great way to understand common pitfalls and avoid them.

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About I9 Authorized

Yes. A friend can be an authorized representative for Form I-9 if the company designates them to be.
If an employer or authorized representative fails to complete or comply with Form I-9, the result could be hefty fines, including penalties under federal law.

James has worked in the HR field going on 5+ years and currently serves in the role of HR Manager. His areas of expertise are in managing recruiting, onboarding, HR metrics, performance and engagement, employee relations and development. He has earned a masters degree in HR along with the nationally recognized certification of SHRM-CP.

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