Master Form I-9 Compliance: Navigating Authorized Representatives with Confidence

Guide to Authorized Representatives for Form I Compliance BannerYou’ve heard of them, the elusive “Authorized Representative,” but you’re not quite sure who they are. Something to do with the I-9? Maybe someone in a gray suit with an oversized rubber stamp that says “APPROVED”? If your imagination is still conjuring this elusive I-9 phantom, we’re here to turn the lights on and snap the authorized representative into focus. After all, they’re the secret weapon for making the much-maligned I-9 convenient, fast, and available remotely.

What is an authorized representative?

Form I-9, the oft-feared document for verifying the identity and employment eligibility has two essential parts. Section 1 is completed by the employee (or with the assistance of a preparer or translator) and captures identity and work authorization document information. Section 2 requires a third-party to physically review those work authorization documents and attest that they appear genuine and related to the employee. While this physical review is commonly performed by a company representative, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also allows an employer to delegate any person as an authorized representative to complete and sign Section 2 on their behalf. Put simply, an authorized representative completes I-9 Section 2 in place of an employer. But much of the confusion isn’t around what they are, but who that person can be.

Who can be an authorized representative?

Let’s get straight to it: legally, an authorized representative can be anyone. There is a common misconception that this person needs to meet certain criteria, but straight from Chapter 2, page 11 of the USCIS handbook, “An authorized representative can be anyone the employer designates to complete and sign Form I-9 on their behalf…

  • A member of the employer’s staff;
  • A personnel officer;
  • An agent or attorney;
  • A notary public; or
  • Any person who has been designated by the employer to complete and sign Form I-9.”

That last bullet catches many compliance-minded HR professionals by surprise, but the government guidance is clear: if they’ve been delegated by the employer, they are a compliant authorized representative. There are no age, citizenship, or relationship restrictions. Though the government offers a blank slate, employers are free to enact internal guardrails for additional peace of mind. For example, some companies require the authorized representative to be eighteen years or older and not directly related to the employee. These are ultimately at the discretion of the organization and don’t intrinsically strengthen compliance. .

What is an employee-delegated authorized representative?

Some employers hesitate to allow employees to delegate a friend or relative to help complete Section 2, but it’s important to consider the actual responsibility of the individual performing this function. Per page 12 of the USCIS employee handbook:

The authorized representative must physically examine each document presented to determine if it reasonably appears to be genuine and relates to the employee presenting it.

It’s essential to point out that the Authorized Representative is not responsible for confirming that the documents presented are genuine. It is their responsibility to physically review them and confirm that they appear genuine. So why do many employers choose a notary to perform this function? Do they have any special training or expertise that makes them more qualified to complete this duty? Let’s look at the qualifications to be an authorized representative.

Does the authorized representative need training?

Consider the breadth of documents that can be presented as part of work authorization: Consular Report of Birth Abroad, U.S. military card or draft record, Driver’s license issued by a Canadian government authority, Native American tribal document…oh my! An employer doesn’t need (and probably won’t find) someone with the expertise to determine the legitimacy of every document presented as part of hiring. Document authenticity is not the objective of Section 2. The purpose of Section 2 is to have someone physically review documents and use their best judgment to determine if they look genuine and related to the employee. Whether that person is a notary or a well-intentioned friend of the new employee does not make a difference from USCIS’s perspective. So how can a friend or neighbor complete a document review with the same authority of a notary? The simple answer is employer instructions. With proper guidance, most people can review documents and complete a perfectly compliant execution of Section 2 just by following directions. If utilizing an employee-delegated authorized representative, it is your responsibility as an employer to provide the process and guidance to ensure they perform a proper physical inspection. We’ll dig into what this process looks like and explore some of the many benefits in the following sections.

Benefits of Employee Delegation for Section 2 Review?

It’s no secret Form I-9 can be a hassle for everyone involved, but there’s a way to lessen the headache, decrease admin time, up completion rate, and ensure rigid compliance. You guessed it…let your employee delegate the authorized representative!

Here are a few of the many benefits:

  • More convenient for your new employee
  • No coordination of third-party
  • No hefty notary fees (most are more than $100 per I-9)
  • Greatly reduce employee dropoff during Form I-9
  • Complete Form I-9 before employee’s first day
  • Much less administrative work for your team

WorkBright offers the most advanced and efficient I-9 process that saves some clients hundreds of hours a year in administrative work. In the next section, we’ll give you a quick tour of how we run a wildly fast, accurate, and 100% compliant I-9 process using the power of the employee-delegated authorized representative.

The Gold-Standard Process: Workbright Remote I-9

WorkBright has spent a decade perfecting our Remote I-9 product with experience gained from clients, legal council, and more than a million new employees onboarded. We maintain a perfect track record of $0 in employer fines, even after clients have been audited by ICE.

Here’s how our next-gen Form I-9 works:

  1. Initiate: Enter a new employee’s email address and we send them a virtual Form I-9
  2. Section 1: Employee enters their information from a phone or tablet
  3. Section 2: Employee meets with a friend or family member who is given detailed instructions on how to complete Section 2
  4. Centralized Review: The completed I-9 is reviewed by a representative of your company

Why This Solves the Typical Authorized Representative Problem:

  • Instructions: We guide the authorized representative and employee through the process step by step, with guardrails along the way to ensure things are accurate and compliant.
  • Legitimacy: We use custom geolocation tech to ensure your employee and authorized representatives are physically together during the review
  • Detailed audit trail: We capture granular data about the Section 2 process including IP addresses, signatures, document copies, dates, times, and geolocations.
  • Custom Restrictions: Set up custom criteria of who can be an authorized representative like age minimums or relationship to employee
  • Centralized Review: Completed I-9s are sent back to your HR team for final review and approval. If anything needs attention, WorkBright facilitates edits and re-submissions.
  • Document Scanning: We ensure accuracy by scanning employee’s documents and filling data with near perfect accuracy.

If you’re ready to supercharge your sluggish I-9 process, request a demo to get started!

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