Verify I-9 documents for remote workers
Employers are required to inspect and verify, in person, the authenticity of a new worker's eligibility documents (passport, driver's license, etc.) within 3 days of their first day of work.
In most US states, remote workers who cannot travel to the employer have two options for verification:
- Employers may designate an authorized representative to inspect the documents for remote workers, or
- The worker may use a notary public if the employer has not already designated an authorized representative.
I-9 Verification in California
In California, a notary public is not qualified to inspect and verify I-9 eligibility documents unless they are also certified and bonded as an immigration consultant. Remote workers in California have two options for verification.
- Option 1: The employer chooses an Authorized Representative to verify the I-9 Form.
Oftentimes, employers use notaries to complete the Form I-9 for their remote workers. Notaries, when doing so, act in their capacity as an agent or representative of the company and not in their capacity as a notary public. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) responsible for the I-9 states that it is acceptable to use a notary in this capacity. However, in California, notaries are not qualified to complete a Form I-9, even in a non-notarial capacity, unless they are qualified and bonded as immigration consultants under state law. An immigration consultant in California must be bonded and pass a background check.
- Option 2: Find a notary that is qualified and bonded as an immigration consultant.
If they do find such a notary, note that the Form I-9 does not require an authorized notarial act of any kind, for either the worker's execution of the document or the Authorized Representative’s. If a notary is agreeing to to serve as an employer’s Authorized Representative, they are not serving as a notary in any capacity. The Form I-9 does not require a notarial act, and they must not affix a notarial seal impression on it. They are signing the form in the capacity of Authorized Representative of the verifying employer.
Remote staff who work in California will need to talk with their employer to find out which of the above options make the most sense.
Thank you for the feedback!