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Notary Bulletin

The Truth About Offering I-9 Services With Your Notary Business

I-9 job interview resized

With the growth of remote employees working away from the office, many Notaries are being approached to perform I-9 verifications for their employers. So the question has come up: is this a viable way for mobile Notaries to make extra money?

Yes and no.

The Notary Bulletin spoke with several Notaries who offer I-9 services. Their conclusion is that I-9 verifications are not likely to generate a lot of income, but they agreed that there was value in offering it as an additional service to their clients.

Every one of America’s 146 million-strong workforce had to fill out an I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification form before starting their jobs. The employee completes the top portion of the form while a representative of the employer — typically someone in Human Resources — completes the bottom part, verifying the employee’s identity.

While this is not a notarial act (see I-9 Forms: What Notaries Need To Know), companies often instruct remote employees to go to a Notary to act as the employer’s representative.

Finding I-9 Work: Is It There, And How Can I Find It?
 

There is work out there. Employers are subject to hefty fines — ranging from $110 to $1,100 per instance — for compliance errors on I-9 forms, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). As a result, companies actually require their remote employees to go to a Notary to complete their I-9s, based on their expertise at verifying forms of ID.

“As Notaries, we already have the skill set for checking IDs,” says Colorado Notary and owner of A Dependable Notary, David Harper, who lists I-9 forms as one of his many service offerings on his company website.

Despite having performed only a handful of verifications, Harper familiarized himself with the form and is comfortable offering the service.

He advises those pursuing more I-9 work to approach the HR departments of companies likely to hire remote employees, such as Internet or tech companies, for whom you can become their primary “go-to” I-9 verification specialist and earn repeat business.

I-9 verifications supply South Carolina Notary Sonita Leak with steady business, due in part to her advertising efforts and knowledge of SEO. Leak updates her website and social media platforms almost daily to reflect her assignments; therefore, a Google search of “Notary” and “I-9 verification” is more likely to yield Leak’s Google+ page or other Internet platforms, making it easy for prospective clients to reach her.

But while Leak finds work in her more rural coverage area, other Notaries have struggled in their attempts to market I-9 services.

“I got on the I-9 bandwagon a few years back, and have done a total of five,” said Virginia Notary John Cole in a recent NNA LinkedIn discussion thread. While Cole offers other non-notarial services, such as wedding officiating, I-9 verification has had little impact on his bottom line. “I did a lot of marketing, but the business just isn't there. Most companies do their own I-9 processing.”

Florida Notary Teresa Burrell agrees that marketing I-9 services is challenging, and advises Notaries who perform them to list the service on their online Notary profiles.

The California Restriction
 

The California Secretary of State’s office considers Form I-9 to be an immigration form. Consequently, California Notaries have been told by the Secretary of State's office that they may not complete an I-9, even in a non-notarial capacity, unless they are qualified and bonded as immigration consultants under the Business and Professions Code.

Other Challenges With I-9 Forms
 

Despite the fact that notarization is not required on the I-9 form, Notaries often are asked to “notarize” the forms and include their seal impression — which is not allowed. Your answer to this request should always be no, followed with a clear explanation of what a Notary can and cannot do when it comes to I-9s.

Both Leak and Burrell received multiple requests from the same nationwide technology company to notarize their I-9 forms.

“I offered to sign it, cross out the title ‘Notary Public’ and replace it with ‘Authorized Representative,’ and not place my seal,” said Burrell, “but they insisted that the seal is required.” The company had even created a separate form to be filled out and notarized.

The best response a Notary can have in this kind of situation is to be familiar with the I-9 form, knowledgeable of their own state laws, and refuse to act outside of their notarial role. Burrell went a step further and contacted the issuing company, who later modified their form to no longer require notarization.

Having an understanding of the I-9 form is a good practice for all Notaries. For some Notaries, offering I-9 verifications is a way to extend their non-notarial service offerings, provide added value to their clients, and generate extra income. Others prefer to focus on different offerings. As there is no law stating you have to perform them, the choice is ultimately yours.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

Comments

Add your comment

FrancisJ. Scanlon

08 Sep 2014

N3 emails I-9 signings but only pay $20. Many time not worth the trouble!

Beth Cornett

08 Sep 2014

26.Can I complete a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on behalf of an employer? No. Although the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would allow a notary public to fill out Form I-9 on the behalf of an employer, Texas notaries public are not provided this authority under Texas law. Therefore, if an employer requests that you complete any portion of a Form I-9 in your capacity as a notary public, you should refuse

Sonita Leak

08 Sep 2014

Yes, I have had companies that stated that they wanted the information "stamped". That's a NO NO. Thank you Kelle for all of your hard work on your articles!

Edward J. Cooper

08 Sep 2014

You discuss only California law regarding I -9 forms. I'm in Illinois

Tonie L Boaman ~ Dash Notary

04 Sep 2014

I do a few hundred of the i9 forms every year in Texas and enjoy meeting the employee's and talking with the company representative -- One of the things that is hard: Having to constantly educate the HR or the appropriate rep at the company on how to use #NotaryPublic as a representative of the company -- and we are NOT ALLOWED to "stamp" anything. More than once I have to forward the email from the Texas SoS's office with those direct instructions before the company/attorney's will accept my training of the issue.

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