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Notary Bulletin

I-9 Forms: What Notaries Need To Know

I-9 job interview resizedIn 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. The representative is simply asked to certify that the appropriate documents were presented (as explained in Section 2 of the I-9 form). The employer then has three days to complete the I-9 form.

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.

UPDATE 8-25-14: Restrictions For California Notaries
 

In August 2014, the California Secretary of State’s Notary Public & Special Filings Section clarified with the NNA that California Notaries who are not qualified and bonded as immigration consultants under the Business and Professions Code Sections 22440-22449, may not complete or make the certification on Form I-9, even in a non-notarial capacity. The Secretary’s office considers Form I-9 to be an immigration form. Any California Notary who is not an immigration consultant violates Government Code Section 8223(c).

The California Secretary of State's office has told the NNA that separate background checks are required for California Notary Public commission applicants who also wish to register as immigration consultants in the state. 

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.

Update for California Notaries, 9-3-14:

We’ve received many questions about the California Secretary of State’s recent statement that CA Notaries should not complete or make certifications on a Form I-9, even in a non-notarial capacity, if the Notary is not a qualified and bonded immigration consultant in California. At this time, we have not received any additional direction on this issue from the Secretary of State’s office other than what was shared with the NNA in August. We will let our Notaries know if we receive any updates from the CA Secretary of State’s office.

Employees who work with I-9 forms and hold a CA Notary commission may wish to consult with a qualified attorney or their employer’s legal counsel to determine if these new guidelines will require any changes in their duties.

Comments

Add your comment

Sue

10 Sep 2014

In regards to California's SoS email: California Government Code Section 8223(c) will be trumped by any Federal Code. The law that applies to situations where state and federal laws disagree is called the supremacy clause, which is part of article VI of the Constitution. The supremacy clause contains what's known as the doctrine of pre-emption, which says that the federal government wins in the case of conflicting legislation. CA can have this statute all it wants, but it will not hold up if contested. In related news, you can "legally"(per the state) grow 99 pot plans in California too, but The Feds can shut you down if they want ;-)

Denise Giltzow

08 Sep 2014

I work in an HR office and am required to complete the employer's section of an I-9 for our company's employees which is a duty unrelated to my notary duties. This new ruling implies that I am no longer able to complete the employer's section as part of my non-notary duties for my employer. Please tell me this in not the case. Thank you.

National Notary Association

08 Sep 2014

Hello Denise, At this time, the CA Secretary of State's office has not provided us any additional clarification to their statement to Notaries regarding I-9 forms in California. You may wish to consult with your employer's legal counsel or a qualified attorney for advice on how the Secretary of State's information may affect your duties. We will update the article if we are provided with any new information by the state Notary office.

John B.

08 Sep 2014

Wow Do any one even if you go back and read these ? Many of you keep saying the same thing and asking the basic same question but nobody dare to answer! I was looking into this because I work at a location the people come in and asked all the time for an I-9 form to be done! To those of you who are Notary's currently work at California business is doing the I-9 signing for that company that company has hired you to sign their I-9 forms you don't attach a notary you just sign it and fill out on behalf of that company that's your job! As a notary no we cannot sign the I-9 form unless we carry a higher insurance bond and we pay the $30 a pass a background check for the required thing $30 and background check that's all ! Not bad!

National Notary Association

08 Sep 2014

Hello John, Please note that the California Secretary of State's office informed the NNA in August that CA Notaries who are not licensed and bonded immgration consultants should not perform I-9 services, either as a Notary or in a non-notarial capacity. See the updates in the article above. We will update this article further if we receive any additional clarification or new information from the CA Secretary of State's office.

Kirsti Donaldson

05 Sep 2014

As a CA Notary, and as previously instructed by the NNA, I have been attaching a CA Ack or CA Jurat to the I-9 Form, stating that the Employees Signature is VALID on the form. Also in the Box on the I-9 Form titled "Certification" we write in "See Attached CA Acknowledgement or Ca Jurat." And then attach one of the forms to the I-9. If this procedure is NOT correct, I would appreciate clarification.

David Krause

04 Sep 2014

I'm not in California, but I don't see how the State of California has any say whatsoever in the matter of how a Federal form is processed. Immigration policy is strictly the domain of the Federal government.

Kathleen

04 Sep 2014

I have also worked in a position where I was responsible for the completion of the I9s as part of the new employment package. I also now work for a small business and wonder if I would have to resign my notary commission in order to perform these duties as part of the Personnel Manager position. I also think it makes no snense.

Kathleen

04 Sep 2014

I have also worked in a position where I was responsible for the completion of the I9s as part of the new employment package. I also now work for a small business and wonder if I would have to resign my notary commission in order to perform these duties as part of the Personnel Manager position. I also think it makes no snense.

Curt Williams

02 Sep 2014

More information from last comment http://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/i-9-central-questions-answers/faq/i-hire-my-employees-remotely-how-do-i-complete-form-i-9 You may designate an authorized representative to fill out Forms I-9 on behalf of your company, including personnel officers, foremen, agents or notary public. The Department of Homeland Security does not require the authorized representative to have specific agreements or other documentation for Form I-9 purposes. If an authorized representative fills out Form I-9 on your behalf, you are still liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process. When completing Form I-9, you or authorized representative must physically examine each document presented to determine if it reasonably appears to be genuine and relates to the employee presenting it. Reviewing or examining documents via webcam is not permissible. If the authorized representative refuses to complete Form I-9 (including providing a signature) another authorized representative may be selected. DHS does not require the authorized representative to have specific agreements or other documentation for Form I-9 purposes. If you hire a notary public, the notary public is acting as an authorized representative of you, not as a notary. The notary public must perform the same required actions as an authorized representative. When acting as an authorized representative, the notary public should not provide a notary seal on Form I-9. Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/27/2014

Curt Williams

02 Sep 2014

This is from the USCIS.gov website indicating that an employer may designate Notary public as authorized rep. I cannot find restriction on CA SoS website "You may designate an authorized representative to fill out Forms I-9 on behalf of your company, including personnel officers, foremen, agents or notary public. The Department of Homeland Security does not require the authorized representative to have specific agreements or other documentation for Form I-9 purposes. If an authorized representative fills out Form I-9 on your behalf, you are still liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process."

Jack Crawford

02 Sep 2014

If it's acceptable to both the employer and employee would it be alright to make copies of the ID document(s) and perform a California Copy Certification by Document Custodian?

Leslie

02 Sep 2014

Steve -- I have completed many I9s on behalf of a company owned by my employer. As an authorized representative, you are verifying that the document "reasonably appears to be genuine and relate to the person presenting it." If employers needed special training in forgeries to use reasonable judgment, no I9s would ever be completed in the workplace.

Linda Millstone

02 Sep 2014

I am a California Notary. I am also the staff accountant/office manager for a private company. As office manager I hire office personnel and am required to complete the I9 for new-hires. Does this mean that I need to be bonded as an immigration consultant?

Paul Y

02 Sep 2014

I usually notarize a copy certification by document custodian of the ID. Totally legal. Employer gets a certified copy of ID to put in the employee file to support the signed (not notarized) I-9.

Nona

02 Sep 2014

Thank you for the article. I have readUPDATE 8-25-14: Restrictions For California Notaries And I just want to verify our family had a small dairy I do the hiring package for new employees. I am a notary public in California, so now I am not allowed to sign the I-9?

Paula Hirsch

02 Sep 2014

My job as Office Services Coordinator for a branch office requires that I complete Section 2. Is this now a violation per "may not complete or make the certification on Form I-9, even in a non-notarial capacity." ?

Sandy Duvall

02 Sep 2014

I do not agree with the Secretary of State's office decision, whether a Notary can complete an I9. The Notary is acting as a Company Rep, NOT a Notary! Why are they saying you have to be a bonded Imiigration Consultant?! If the Notary is not acknoweding or documenting this as a Notarial act, how can they enforce this?

Marie A

02 Sep 2014

In my position with my employer, I am responsible for completing the new hire packages which includes verifying all the I-9 forms for new hires and completing the certification. This is not a notarial duty. I am also a notary for my employer when needed. I do not perform any other notarial acts outside of my employment. My notary was obtained only due to my position with my new employer. Does this mean I can no longer verify and certify the I-9 forms when I complete the new employment packages included in my job duties?

Jenni B

02 Sep 2014

This is interesting to me because in my job, I have duties of a notary and I am also the authorized rep to fill out I-9's for new employees. Although I am not in California, I'd like to know how this would affect a CA notary with the same type of duties. Would I no longer be able to fill out I-9's because I am also a notary?

GS Peery

01 Sep 2014

Thanks for the Legal Update on 8-25-14, from the CA Sec of State, regarding I-9's and acting as an Immigration Consultant. Never heard anything from the SOS's office nor anything on their website.

GS Peery

01 Sep 2014

Haven't received or read anything from the CA Secretary of State's Notary Section Legal Updates website regarding I-9's. Thanks for the Legal Update !

Grace

01 Sep 2014

I used to work in law offices where I was required to have a California Notary commission to notarize documents. I now work in construction as an office manager and have a CA notary commission (which I rarely use). I have to hire several hundred union employees and fill out their paperwork, including I-9's to build a large hospital. Is the S.O.S. saying that I can't do their hiring paperwork, i.e. the I-9, in my capacity as an Office Manager? Am I required to resign my CA notary commission just to be able to hire these men? It seems rather illogical that anybody else in the office could fill out an I-9, but I wouldn't be permitted to by the S.O.S. "UPDATE 8-25-14: Restrictions For California Notaries In August 2014, the California Secretary of State’s Notary Public & Special Filings Section clarified with the NNA that California Notaries who are not qualified and bonded as immigration consultants under the Business and Professions Code Sections 22440-22449, may not complete or make the certification on Form I-9, even in a non-notarial capacity. The Secretary’s office considers Form I-9 to be an immigration form. Any California Notary who is not an immigration consultant violates Government Code Section 8223(c). The California Secretary of State's office has told the NNA that separate background checks are required for California Notary Public commission applicants who also wish to register as immigration consultants in the state. "

Cathy B

28 Aug 2014

I used to do these forms on a daily basis for my old employer as being the personnel representative for the department. I was also the Notary Public for the department. If the State of Calif. requires special training certification, maybe offer the class at the next annual conference.

Rita C

24 Aug 2014

Really enjoyed all the information on this discussion!

Steve

22 Aug 2014

As a California Notary Public I know how rewarding it can be to help people who are in need. However, I would be extremely cautious in providing this type of service without some type of extra insurance or training. On the I-9 you are attesting to the genuineness of the documents presented, and stating that to the best of your knowledge this person is authorized to work in the U.S. As you aren't performing a notarization I don't think your standard notary E&O insurance is going to cover you here if you make a mistake identifying the documents. Has anyone taken a course in document identification, such as how to identify the security features found in genuine U.S. passports, Social Security cards, military IDs, Permanent Resident Cards, etc? Other than through routine handing and your initial notary course, I would guess not. Am I being overly cautious? Maybe. I know there is a lot of liability in being a notary, and verifying IDs, but that is why I have E&O insurance if I make a mistake. Just something to think about (and I'm not in the insurance business, just thinking about how litigious our society is when something goes wrong).

Jean Zei

22 Aug 2014

Yes, I do often act as an Authorized Representative for a hiring agencies and companies, (in the capacity explained by the government document - to witness ID) only after I have a contract offer from the hiring agency. I do this for about $90 per assignment. I do a few a month. I instruct my callers to obtain a letter from the employer to me, fill out the i9 form as well as they can, bring me the form and their IDs, I also offer free notarization to the client if they bring anything else at the same appointment - it's almost the simplest thing I do. (Protip: I actually keep blank i9 forms in my job bag incase we mess anything up.) (the clients likely do not know that it doesn't get notarized, just nod and say "yes I can", but don't notarize it, just fill in ID and sign it! )

Sandra

22 Aug 2014

I wan to verify I'm getting this correct. The Notary completes Section 2 (document information and makes copies of docs), signs name, dates, prints name and enters "Authorized Rep". The Company fills in the hire date, Company name and Company address.

Cheryl Lindsley

22 Aug 2014

I sent an email regarding this very subject to the California Secretary of State. This is the reply that I received: "California notarial law does not authorize notaries public to verify the information on the I-9 forms in thier capacity as a notary public. California notaries public are required to use a properly worded acknowledgment or jurat when performing thier notarial duties. Sincerely, Notary Public & Special Filings Section".

Kathy

21 Aug 2014

It does seem to me that $20 to do an I9 form is actually profitable based on low to no overhead costs as well as the amount of time literally can be about 10 minutes. Anybody have any suggestion as to how to 'generate' availability of this service to the companies that do this? Basically, a form of marketing?

Debbie F.

19 Aug 2014

If I would not acting as a Notary, and as a Representative instead, do I have the right to refuse to do the I-9 form. I am a Notary and did not sign up to be a Co. Representative to a company that I do not know.

National Notary Association

19 Aug 2014

Hello Debbie, Thanks for your question. Since acting as an authorized representative for an I-9 form isn't a notarial act, you may refuse a request to perform this service if you choose. Have a great day.

Jan Giovannini-Hill

18 Aug 2014

Can we also do this in California?

National Notary Association

20 Aug 2014

Hi Jan, thank you for your question. Please see our updated 8-25-14 information in the article above for California Notaries from the Secretary of State's office.

barbara thorne

18 Aug 2014

I have a question relating to this sentence: "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." How would a notary know she is an authorized rep if there are no instructions from the company?

Linda Panzo

18 Aug 2014

I've been doing the i-9 verification for several years now. I agree that the $20 fee doesn't seem to be worth some peoples time. However, here in MI, max fee for Notorial service is $10, anything over that is travel, etc., expense. Considering that I set the time and place and the whole verificaton takes less than 5 minutes and usually less than 1 to 5 miles, I find these type of appointments a nice supplement to my income. BTW sometimes I just walk across the street to my local coffee shop.

Georgia Percy

18 Aug 2014

These articles are very helpful.

Richard

18 Aug 2014

I had this very experience last week. But I did ask the individual to obtain a letter (which was emailed) from the employer appointing me their "authorized representative" to sign the I9 on their behalf.

susan e long

18 Aug 2014

I just did an I-9 form and it had a separate page for the notary to sign and affix seal

Sheila R

18 Aug 2014

This was very helpful! I have been asked to either do the I-9 or notarize them, and I've never been sure what to do. Great information.

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