I-9 Forms: What Notaries Need To Know
By Patti Wulfestieg
Updated 2-24-16. In the current global workforce, hiring employees remotely is a growing trend. And the federal government is auditing more businesses to make sure they are complying with the requirements to complete I-9 forms for every employee.
Consequently, more employers are asking prospective remote employees to find a Notary to help complete the forms. Here is some basic information to help Notaries who are asked to deal with an I-9 form.
What Is The I-9 Form?
The I-9 form, issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) verifies the identity and employment eligibility for employees hired in the U.S. The form is to be completed by both the employee and the employer (or authorized representative). As part of the process, the employee must present documents verifying his or her eligibility to work in the U.S., and the employer (or authorized representative) must physically examine these documents.
According to the USCIS Handbook for Employers, employers “may designate someone to fill out Forms I-9 for you, such as a personnel officer, foreman, agent, or anyone else acting on your behalf, such as a notary public.”
Do I-9 Forms Require Notarization?
As of 2013, there is no certificate wording included in the I-9 form, nor is a Notary asked to affix his or her seal to the form, so the answer is no.
When an employer designates a Notary Public or other individual to complete a Form I-9, that person is designated as an "authorized representative." The representative is simply asked to certify that the appropriate identity documents were presented (as explained in Section 2 of the I-9 form).
The authorized representative must review the employee’s identity documents while the employee is in their presence and then complete Section 2.
The authorized representative does not perform a notarization or affix a Notary seal to the I-9, since they are not acting as an official Notary Public. In the title field in Section 2, the Notary should write “authorized representative.”
Though the form itself does not require notarization, there are times when an employer will present a new employee with an email instructing him or her to take the form to a Notary for completion. In these cases, the Notary is advised to ask the signer for a copy of the email, which he or she can then keep, verifying that you acted within the employer’s request.
If instructions do not accompany the I-9 form, and the employee is not able to contact the employer, then there is no law prohibiting the Notary from completing the form — as long as it is clear the Notary is acting as an authorized representative, and not as a Notary.
Keeping A Record
While this is not a notarial act, the Notary should record the transaction (perhaps in a spreadsheet), including the name of the employee, the name of the company requesting the completion of Section 2, and the date you completed the document transaction.
Remember, do not use your journal of notarial acts to keep the record of I-9 transactions because they are not notarizations.
Can The Notary Charge For I-9s?
If you are acting as an authorized representative, then handling the I-9 form would not be considered a notarial act, and therefore not within the scope of state mandated fees for performing notarial services. As with any non-notarial services provided, the Notary is free to determine the fee for providing the service of signing the I-9 form.
Patti Wulfestieg is a Compliance Specialist at the National Notary Association.