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The I-9 Expertise Quiz

By Ben Opp, SPHR, HR Hotline Advisor
Published January 31, 2023

Consider yourself an I-9 expert? An employment authorization authority? A USCIS connoisseur? Test yourself with these real-world, HR Hotline-derived I-9 situations.

No cheating! Ready? Go!

Q: Your new hire fails to provide valid I-9 documentation by their fourth day of work. What do you do next?
Tell the employee that they can't continue working for you unless they present valid employment authorization documents, and place the employee on unpaid leave. Make sure they are aware of all possible documents that are acceptable. Provide a reasonable amount of time for the employee to comply. 

Q: Your new hire presents I-9 documents that show two different last names. One of the names matches the employee's entry in Section 1, and the documents otherwise seem valid. What do you do next?
Ask the employee about the discrepancy. If the employee says that the name they entered in Section 1 is their legal name, and the documents "reasonably appear to relate to the employee," accept the documents. Attach a note to the I-9 explaining the discrepancy before you place it in your files.

Q: Your new hire presents an expired Employment Authorization Document (EAD), along with a receipt for their pending I-765 application. What do you do next?
The employee's work authorization may qualify for automatic extension since their renewal application is pending. Refer to the USCIS website for detailed instructions which include how to determine if the extension applies and how to fill out the I-9 in this situation.

Q: Your new hire says they lost their birth certificate (or other document), and instead presents a receipt for a replacement document. What do you do next?
An authentic receipt is acceptable and valid for 90 days from the employee's date of hire. Examine the replacement document within 90 days. If the replacement hasn't arrived after that time, consult the USCIS website for further instructions.

Q: Your new hire presents a document that appears to be counterfeit. What do you do next?
If a document "does not reasonably appear to be genuine or relate to the employee," you should reject the document and ask the employee to provide a different one. If the employee fails to provide another valid document, you can likely terminate the employee. (It should be noted that USCIS does not expect you to be a document expert, just to use reasonable judgment.)

If you knew all of these, or even a few, give yourself a pat on the back – you're an I-9 aficionado!

As always, if you need help with a tricky I-9 situation, HR Source members can always “dial I-911” (get it?) and give our team a call on the HR Hotline at 800-448-4584 or email us through the HR Hotline online.