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Employment Discrimination
Acceptable Documents For Hiring
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Employing Immigrants

Acceptable Documents for Hiring

Acceptable Documents

It is unlawful for employers to knowingly hire, recruit, or refer for a fee any individual who is not authorized to work in the United States. It is also unlawful to continue to employ an undocumented worker or a worker who loses authorization to work. (Those hired before November 6, 1986 do not fall within this category.)

You may hire anyone whose documents prove identity and work authorization in accordance with the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification requirements. There are many documents and combinations of documents that are acceptable.

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List of I-9 Acceptable Documents (updated 2/08)

List A
Documents that establish both identity
and employment eligibility

  1. U.S. Passport (unexpired or expired)
  2. Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551)
  3. Unexpired foreign passport with a temporary I-551 stamp
  4. Unexpired foreign passport with an unexpired Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94) for nonimmigrant aliens authorized to work for a specific employer and
  5. Unexpired Employment Authorization Document that contains a photograph (Form I-766, I-688, I-688A, or I-688B). This last listing has been added to List A as part of the I-9 revision.


List B
Documents that establish identity

  1. Driver's license or ID card issued by a state or outlying possession of the United States provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, sex, height, eye color, and address
  2. ID card issued by federal, state or local government agencies or entities provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, sex, height, eye color, and address
  3. School ID card with a photograph
  4. Voter's registration card
  5. U.S. Military card or draft record
  6. Military dependent's ID card
  7. U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card
  8. Native American tribal document
  9. Driver's license issued by a Canadian government authority
    For persons under age 18 who are unable to present a document listed above:
  10. School record or report card
  11. Clinic, doctor, or hospital record
  12. Day-care or nursery school record


List C
Documents that establish employment eligibility

  1. U.S. social security card issued by the Social Security Administration (other than a card stating it is not valid for employment)
  2. Certification of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State
    (Form FS-545 or Form DS-1350)
  3. Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a state, county, municipal authority or outlying possession of the United States bearing an official seal
  4. Native American tribal document
  5. U.S. Citizen ID Card (INS Form I-197)
  6. ID Card for use of Resident Citizen in the United States (INS Form I-179)
  7. Unexpired employment authorization document issued by the INS
    (other than those listed under List A)

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Employment Eligibility Verification - Form I-9

Form I-9 is the "Employment Eligibility Verification" form. Employers must use the I-9 to document that they are hiring only people who are authorized to work in the United States. Form I-9 is available online at . A new 48-page "Handbook for Employers: Instructions for Completing the Form I-9" is available at

To comply with I-9 requirements, employers must:

  • Complete the I-9 form for every employee and keep it on file for at least 3 years from the date of employment or for 1 year after the employee leaves the job, whichever is later. You also must make I-9 forms available for government inspection upon request.

  • Verify that you have seen documents establishing identity and work authorization for all your new employees (U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike) hired after November 6, 1986.

  • Accept any of the documents listed in I-9 and presented to you by your employee. You may not ask for more documents that those required, and you may not demand to see specific documents, such as a "green card" or "permanent resident" card.

  • Renew work authorization documents on or before their expiration date, and update the I-9 form to reflect these date changes. This is also called "re-verification." At this time, you must accept any valid documents your employee chooses to present, whether or not they are the same documents provided initially. (Note: Since you have already seen a picture ID of the employee, you do not need to see an identity document at this time.)

Remember, you are free to hire anyone who can show documents establishing his/her identity and authorization to work in the United States. Any of the documents or combination of documents listed on the back of the I-9 form are acceptable, as long as they appear to be reasonably genuine.

Suggested Best Practices

Create a written policy for re-verification of employees (updating I-9 forms before they expire).

Create a written policy to cover situations where employees' documents are being processed by INS.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I be sure that applicants for the posted position are authorized to work in the U.S.?

You can state the following in your job posting: "Applicants must be currently authorized to work in the United States for any employer." Once you hire a person, you and your new employee must complete an Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9.

2. Can't I just require that applicants have a "green card?"

No. A "green card only" (generally used to refer to a permanent resident card) policy will almost always violate federal anti discrimination law.

First, "green cards" are only issued to individuals with a specific immigration status, namely permanent residents. Many other immigrants are authorized to work in the U.S. but don't have "green cards." Thus, by requiring a "green card," you are effectively limiting your job posting to permanent residents only, and excluding other categories of individuals who are authorized to work.

Requiring applicants to have a particular citizenship or immigration status is generally unlawful. Second, requiring a "green card" or any other BCIS (formerly INS) issued document during completion of the Form I-9 may also violate federal law. All new employees should be shown the complete list of documents acceptable to complete the Form I-9 and given the choice of which documents to show to complete the form.

3. How can I convey that I am not interested in sponsoring a candidate for this position?

You may simply state: "No sponsorship is available for this position." In the alternative, as discussed above in response to Question 1, you may state the following: "Applicants must be currently authorized to work in the United States for any employer." Candidates requiring sponsorship are not authorized to work in the United States for any employer. For positions with your company, including H-1B visa holders, you may not express a preference for H-1B candidates or other individuals requiring sponsorship or employment visas. Employment opportunities should be made available equally to all individuals who are authorized to work in the United States. To do otherwise, may violate federal anti-discrimination law.

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