I9 verification documents-challenges and solutions

i9 verification documentsI was wondering what suggestions you or others in the HR community have related to ensuring that new hires show up for orientation with the required forms(s) of ID for completion of the I-9. Currently, I include a copy of the back of the I-9 form when I send their employment offer letter and include instructions to the new hire that they will need to bring the appropriate form of ID with them to their orientation.

I am amazed at how many folks show up for orientation without the necessary ID. Then they want to fax a copy of their Social Security card, passport, etc. to me the next day – which in reality ends up being a week or so later, if at all. I don’t think faxed documents are acceptable but sometimes that is all I can get. Am I the only HR person who has this problem? Thank you for any advice! -L-

When I got this email from a reader, I was secretly relieved. Not because she was having problems with her I9’s, but because I realized I wasn’t the only one who had those same issues. It’s such a critical piece of the hiring process that our companies expect us to get right, but we are dependent on employees (many times at remote sites) to get us the I9 verification documents we need.

And as a side note, no, faxed copies are not supposed to be accepted, because you haven’t seen them in person to verify their authenticity. You need those originals or someone from your company to see those originals who can verify the documents in person.

So how can we combat this issue? 

Getting your I9’s done on time

  • At a previous employer, we required that documentation at the time of their application. That ensured that if we ended up hiring the person, we already had it on hand and ready for verification.
  • Currently I do something similar to L’s process. I list the documents as a contingency for hire in the offer letter, and I also add in a copy of the I9 with the offer letter when it’s delivered just so they take the time to get familiar with it up front.
  • Another idea might be to call, text, or email the employee the night before their first day as a reminder of what to bring. This only works if you have a very low volume of new hires, and if that’s the case I wouldn’t expect much of an issue with this anyway.
  • Create a new hire welcome letter that gets the person excited about their first day, listing clearly a handful of critical items that you would expect from them (including the I9 docs).
  • Set a precedence where managers call their new employees the day before and give them a heads up on what to expect.
  • Create a short checklist for employees to bring with them. Long, detailed checklists won’t work, because these little details fall between the cracks. It needs to be a top 3-4 items necessary for a strong first day or something like that.
  • Set aside extra time in the middle of an employee’s first day for them to return home to retrieve the documents if need be. If they bring them as required, then just roll along with the regular orientation.

Those are a few ideas I can think of. The most radical one would be to tell the person their offer letter will be rescinded and their position is terminated without the documentation by the deadline, but I’d save that as a last resort.

Like I said before, I’m certain that we are not the only ones who have had the issues with this. Someone out there has a brilliant solution if they are willing to share! 

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  • One thought on “I9 Verification Documents-How to Get Employee Cooperation

    1. Ahh! The never ending nightmare that is the I9. I have extreme feelings about everything I9. I have studied the I9 handbook-which is 69 pages in case anyone hasn’t studied it-forwards and backwards. My personal opinion-its a joke! I won’t get on my soap box here about that. BUT Every single applicant knows they have to have their I9 documentation as a new hire, yet they do not come prepared… why is that? It used to be a serious problem for us… my office averages about 65 new hires a week (even more during our “busy season”) so we had to get “extreme” with it. No I9 documents-no job!

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