Notaries are often asked to complete I-9 forms by employees hired or working remotely from their employer. Employers may actually be instructing their newly hired employees to seek out a notary public in their area to assist in completing the form and review identifying documents. This may appear as something a Notary can do since they are reviewing identifying documents as a normal course of notarization. However, the I-9 Form is not a document that gets notarized – Ever! Before discussing why this is so, let’s learn what an I-9 Form is and how it must be completed.
It is required for all Employers to complete and retain the I-9 Form for all employees they hire. The form has three sections. Once hired, the Employee completes Section 1 of the form. This must be submitted to the Employer by the first day of employment.
The Employer is responsible for completing Section 2. This is the section that Notaries are contacted to assist with. There are temporary rules that allow this completion and inspection of identifying documents to be conducted remotely. Employers will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. The Employer can either complete this form or authorize another (Authorized Representative) to complete the form. An authorized representative can be any person the employer designates to complete and sign Form I-9 on their behalf. This is where Notaries can get into trouble. Often Notaries are getting requests for completing I-9 Forms from Employees. But this form specifically states that it must be completed by the Employer or their Authorized Representative. The reason for this is because the Employer is liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations of the employer sanctions laws committed by the person designated to act on the employer’s behalf. Notaries are not commissioned (or licensed) by their state for this authority; therefore, it is not within their capacity to conduct the completion of the I-9 Form.
Can Notaries assist with the completion of the I-9 Form? Based upon the information on the document and from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services site, anyone the Employer selects and approves as Authorized Representative of the Employer may complete the form. If the Employer requests and approves a Notary Public to act as the Authorized Representative, and the notary agrees, then the Notary Public may assist in completing the I-9 Form based upon the instructions. However, any Notary doing so is no longer acting in the capacity of a Notary Public, but as the Authorized Representative of the Employer.
When notaries get requests to complete an I-9 Form, be prepared to gain information on the following:
- Is the request coming from an Employer? If not, direct the requester to have their Employer seek the request. Only the employer can authorize a representative on their behalf.
- In accepting the assignment as Authorized Representative, review what tasks are necessary to complete the form.
- Never complete the form as a Notary Public or place your seal on the form. Seek guidance from your state’s licensing/commission before accepting the assignment.
- Make sure you are aware that you are signing the document under penalty of perjury and that everything on the document is true and accurate. If there are blanks, consider having it completed or not signing.