When you begin a new job in the United States, you must fill out an Employment Eligibility Verification form, also know as a Form I-9. The form asks you to provide your employer with proof of your identity and your legal right to work in the United States. Any documentation that you use must be current and valid.
Federal law requires employers to verify the identity and immigration status of new employees. When you are hired, you and your employer complete the I-9 form, which your employer keeps on file during your employment. According to United States Immigration and Citizenship Services, your employer must keep the I-9 on file for three years after you are hired or one year after you leave the company, whichever is later.
The law requires you to show your employer documentation that both proves your identity as well as your right to work in the United States. A United States passport, passport card or a foreign passport containing a work authorization stamp or visa can all be used to establish both identity and the right to work. If you don't have a passport, you can show your employer a combination of documents to prove your identity and work authorization. For example, you can show your employer a government-issued photo identification card, such as a driver's license, to prove your identity and a certified copy of your United States birth certificate to show that you are a citizen and have the right to work.
As of April 3, 2009, employers can no longer accept an expired passport or other identity documents as proof of identity or that a person has the right to work in the United States. All of the documents that you present to your employer to complete your I-9 form must be current.
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If your passport has expired and you need to renew it quickly, you can pay an extra fee to have your passport renewal expedited. An expedited passport can still take a few weeks to arrive. If you need your passport solely for the purpose of filling out your I-9 form, it may be cheaper and faster to obtain other identification, such as your birth certificate or a Social Security card.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Form M-274, Handbook for Employers; June 1, 2011
- Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton LLP; Revised Form I-9 Mandatory for All Employers as of April 3, 2009
- U.S. Department of State; Processing Times
- U.S. Department of State; How to Get Your Passport in a Hurry
Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.