ID Requirements for Employment in Texas

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Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986. That federal law made it a requirement for employers in the country to verify by means of the federal I-9 form that each employee they hire is authorized to work in this country. Texas employers, like employers in all states, must comply with these requirements. Both employees and employers located in Texas should get an overview of the types of identification documents that are used in the state to meet this mandate.

Texas ID Requirements to Work

Anyone hoping to get a job in Texas should be aware that, as a prerequisite to being hired, they will be required to prove that they have the right to work in the United States. The only people who do not have the right to work in this country are those present illegally or as tourists without the right to work. Proving that a person has the right to work essentially requires proof of citizenship, legal resident status or a visa that gives them the right to work in the country.

Employment Eligibility Verification

The Immigration Reform and Control Act that requires I-9 forms is enforced by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This agency propounds regulations that set out the types of documents that can be used to establish the right to work.

Federal regulations set out three separate lists, labeled List A, List B and List C. These lists are displayed at the end of the I-9 form and advise the potential employee how to work with the forms. The state of Texas uses the same lists for employees filling out I-9 Forms in the state.

Proving Identity and the Right to Work

According to the instructions on the federal government lists, the job seeker must provide one of the documents on List A. If they cannot do this, they can provide one document from List B and one from List C to prove their authorization to work. The state of Texas has the same exact requirements; Texas law mandates the use of documents from these lists as well.

The first list, List A, contains acceptable documents that establish both the potential employee's identification and also their right to work. These documents are:

  • Valid U.S. passport book or U.S. passport card.
  • Valid permanent resident card (green card) or alien registration receipt card (Form I-551).
  • Valid foreign passport that contains a temporary I-551 stamp or temporary I-551 printed notation on a machine-readable immigrant visa.
  • Current employment authorization document that contains a photograph (Form I-766).
  • Valid passport from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) or the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) with Form I-94 or Form I-94A indicating non-immigrant admission under the Compact of Free Association Between the United States and the FSM or RMI.
  • For a non-immigrant alien authorized to work for a specific employer: a valid foreign passport together with Form I-94 or Form I-94A that has an endorsement of the alien's non-immigrant status. The period of endorsement must still be open and the proposed employment is not in conflict with any restrictions or limitations identified on the form.

Forms of ID to Prove Identity in Texas

The second list on the I-9 form, labeled List B, contains documents that can be used to establish a potential employee's identity. These documents do not establish the person's right to work, however. The job applicant will also need to include a document from List C to meet all of the qualifications of the I-9 form.

What types of documents are on List B to prove identity? Perhaps the best known photo ID is a valid driver license. Texas accepts valid driver licenses from Texas, of course, but it also accepts driver licenses from other states and even Canada. Also on List B are identification cards from any government agencies, whether state, federal or municipal. Voter registration cards and military cards are also acceptable, as well as school ID cards for those under 18 years old.

Proving Authorization to Work in Texas

Any job applicant in Texas who cannot produce a document from List A must offer one document from List B and one from List C. List C documents are those that can be used to establish work authorization, but not identity. The documents on this list include a birth certificate or a certification of report of birth issued by the U.S Department of State. The latter is for U.S. citizens born abroad and can be found on Forms DS-1350, FS-545 and FS-240.

Other proof of work authorization sufficient for I-9 purposes include a Social Security card (as long as it is not stamped invalid for employment or requires additional authorization), a Native American tribal document, or an employment authorization issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Issues That Can Arise

Sometimes a job seeker may have concerns about producing one or more of these documents to authorities. If the concern arises because some of the information may be false, it may be better not to submit the I-9 at all. Employers in Texas almost always run the name and information through state and federal data banks to confirm the data provided and the validity of the documents. Note that it is possible to pick and choose among the documents to find those that are less intrusive.

Another potential concern may arise for transgender people. That is, people seeking gender transition may have challenges if they haven't yet been able to officially change their gender on their driver's license. This may let an employer know that the person is transgender, which may, in some cases, put them at risk of gender discrimination.