M-274: The Handbook for Employers Completing Form I-9

Form M-274: What is it?

M-274, the Handbook for Employers, is a guide provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to help instruct you on the exact process by which you need to complete Form I-9. It covers everything you would need to know about hiring employees, whether they be U.S. citizens already or here on a visa that allows them to work in the U.S.

Form I-9: What is it?

Employers are required to fill out Form I-9 to help verify the identity of each new employee hired in the United States. Work in the U.S. can be the primary draw for unauthorized workers, and Form I-9 was implemented to help reduce this draw by ensuring that every employer hire authorized workers.

Summary of Handbook for Employers Steps

Your employee will complete Section 1 of Form I-9 when he or she is hired.

If the employee is a minor (under the age of 18), the employee’s parent or legal guardian must complete the Preparer and/or Translator Certification Block near the bottom of the page.

If the employee has a disability (as defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities), a representative of a nonprofit organization, parent, or legal guardian must complete Section 1 and write “Special Placement” in the signature field where the employee would normally sign his or her name. This person then also completes the Preparer and/or Translator Certification Block near the bottom of the page.

After that, the employee must show you original document(s) showing his or her identity and employment authorization. Once you examine these documents and confirm that your employee is able to legally work in the U.S., you must complete Section 2 within three business days of hire.

H-1B Visa

The H-1B program allows U.S. business to temporarily employee foreign workers in a specialty field. If you are hiring a person under the H-1B program, you must submit Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, to USCIS.

If the USCIS approves your petition, you will receive Form I-797 notifying you of this approval. Once your employee begins working for you, you must complete Form I-9 as directed above and within the guidebook. It is possible for an H-1B worker to continue working for you beyond the expiration of his or her approved stay. To accomplish this, you must request an extension of stay before his or her H-1B status expires. More information on this can be found on page 22 of the guidebook.

Form I-9: Long term

As an employer, you must retain an employee’s complete Form I-9 as long as that employee is working for you. After the employment has been terminated, Form I-9 must be retained either three years after the date of hire or one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later. You may store the employee’s Form I-9 either electronically, on paper, or microform. More information on retaining Form I-9 can be found on page 27 of the guidebook.

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