Documents to Prove Identity and Employment Authorization

If you are looking for a job in the U.S., you will need to provide prospective employers with several documents that go beyond your resume and cover letter.

In fact, if you do not prove your identity and right to work in the United States, companies will not be able to hire you, no matter how impressed they were during your job interview. This applies to first-time applicants and seasoned professionals looking for a new challenge alike.

You can use several documents as proof of identity and employment authorization in the U.S. Keep reading this article to find out which ones you will need and how to get them.

Who Needs ID and Employment Authorization Documents and When?

All workers in the U.S. need these documents in order to be hired successfully. As explained, it does not matter how long you have been in the workforce for, you should keep your proof of ID and employment authorization at hand.

It is not mandatory to walk into the interview with a printed copy of these documents, although some candidates prefer to do so. Usually, once a job offer is made, the HR department will ask you to provide them.

However, it is strongly recommended to obtain certified copies of your vital records and other documents beforehand so that there are no delays and issues with your new contract.

What Documents Are Needed for I-9 Verification?

All employers must complete Form I-9 for each professional they wish to hire in the United States, whether the prospective employee is a U.S. citizen or not. Employees must complete a copy of their form too.

Form I-9 is used to verify an individual’s identity and eligibility to work. The form must be accompanied by acceptable supporting I-9 documents.

I-9 documents are divided into 3 lists of acceptable documentation according to what they can prove and whether they can be used alone as evidence. The lists are issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Keep reading to find the 3 complete lists below.

List A: I-9 Verification Documents

Documents on list A serve a double purpose as they can be used as proof of ID as well as evidence of employment authorization.

This means that, unless instructed otherwise, providing just one the following will be enough for you to meet the I-9 verification requirements:

  • Valid U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card
  • Permanent Resident Card (known as Green Card) or Alien Registration Receipt Card (form I-551) with photograph
  • Previous Permanent Resident Card with signature
  • Valid Temporary Resident Card
  • Valid Employment Authorization Document issued by the United States Department of Homeland Security with Photograph (Form I-766)
  • Valid Employment Authorization Card
  • Foreign Passport with Form I-94 or Form I-94A with Arrival/Departure Record & Endorsement to Work (the name on the passport and that on the form must match exactly)
  • Passport from the Federated States of Micronesia or the Republic of the Marshall Islands with Form I-94 or Form I-94A
  • Foreign Passport containing form I-551 stamp or Form I-551 Printed Notation (the name on the passport and that on the form must match exactly)

List B: Acceptable Forms of ID for Employment

I-9 documents in list B serve as proof of identity but do not verify the eligibility for employment in the U.S.

  • Driver's license or ID card issued by a U.S. federal or state body. The card must include a photograph or identifying information about the individual such as name, DOB, sex, height, eye color, address
  • U.S. Armed Services identification card or draft record
  • Voter Registration Card
  • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card
  • Native American tribal document
  • Driver's license issued by a Canadian government authority or
  • Trusted traveler documentation (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI)

If you are under 18 years of age, you can prove your identity with one of the following:

  • School record or report card
  • Clinic, doctor or hospital record or
  • Daycare or nursery school record

List C: What Documents Establish Employment Authorization?

I-9 documents featured in list C represent proof of employment eligibility:

  • A U.S. Social Security card issued by the Social Security Administration. You may not use this document if it reads:
    • “Not valid for employment” (usually issued to non-immigrant aliens unauthorized to work)
    • “Valid for work only with INS authorization”
    • “Valid for work only with DHS authorization”
  • A birth certificate issued by the U.S. State Department (Form FS-545 or Form DS-1350)
  • Original or certified copy of a birth certificate from the U.S. or an outlying possession of the U.S., bearing an official seal
  • A Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561)
  • A Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
  • Native American tribal document
  • U.S. Citizen ID Card (Form I-197)
  • An ID Card for the use of a Resident Citizen in the United States (Form I-179)
  • A valid employment authorization card issued by the Dept. of Homeland Security (other than those included on List A) or
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240)

Since individuals must prove both their identity and right to work in the United States, those who provide an item on list C must also supply a list-B item and vice versa.

Can I provide a short-form birth certificate as employment authorization?

No, it is not advisable to use a short-form birth certificate as proof of employment eligibility. Short-form birth certificates (also known as informational birth certificates) vary depending on state law but are often an abstract of the original certificate that does not include detailed information about its holder.

A long-form birth certificate is the original document or a certified copy which includes all information necessary on a birth certificate.

Although some states accept short-form birth certificates to establish legal proof of identity and/or citizenship, it is best to obtain an official birth certificate as an I-9 verification document.