A Brief History of the I-9 Form

By Robert Kahn

Aug. 11, 2006

Federal agencies’ cumbersome efforts to enforce immigration laws in the workplace are encapsulated in the history of the I-9 form, which job applicants must fill out to prove they may legally work in the U.S.

    1986: The I-9 is created by the Immigration Reform and Control Act. Job seekers may show any of 29 forms of identification to prove they are entitled to work.

    1997: The Immigration and Naturalization Service writes an interim rule on the I-9, reducing the number of acceptable forms of ID to 27.

    1998: INS proposes another interim rule on the I-9, reducing the number of acceptable IDs to 14, but it never “finalizes” either rule.

    May 2005: The Department of Homeland Security releases an “updated” I-9 that does not include any of the changes proposed by either interim rule; it simply changes all references to “INS” to “DHS.”

    August 2005: INS’ successor agency, ICE, recommends that it “set a specific time frame for completing the department’s review of the Form I-9 process”.

    Source: “Weaknesses Hinder Employment Verification and Worksite Enforcement Efforts,” U.S. Government Accountability Office, August 2005

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