Notarizing Authorization for I-9 Forms

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Claudia Casasola, Notary Services

I was asked by a customer to notarize a form for Remote Hire attesting that I had verified that the documentation required for the I-9 form was valid. The form basically said that the Notary was acting as an agent of the company in verifying the documents, and provided a place to sign and put the notary seal. I refused to notarize such form since there is nothing in the State of California handbook that says anything about it, and also because I'm not an employee of such company and of course was not going to notarize my own signature.

There seems to be some controversy in the issue where some notaries are actually notarizing this form, and some others have refused. The State of Texas specifically prohibits notaries from notarizing the I-9 (http://www.sos.state.tx.us/statdoc/faqs2300.shtml#np23), but the State of California does not address this specific issue. As explained to me by a representative of the National Notary Association, not all the states cover every specific form there is out there, because there are too many to address! It all comes down to the fact that when notarizing a document, a Notary is not attesting as to the authencity of the same, but is verifying that the person signing the document is who he/she says is, and is signing the document on his/her own volition.

If I would have signed the form attached to the I-9, I would have been saying that I was an agent for the hiring company, and that I had checked the documents provided for identification by the to-be-employee, and that the documents were valid proof of the right to work in the United States. They also wanted the Notary to fill out the I-9 form, and notaries are prohibited from filling out documents for customers, another NO-NO!

The following is from the National Notary Association. http://www.nationalnotary.org/news/index.cfm?text=newsnotary&newsid=1798&newscat=21

"An I-9 is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) form submitted by an employer to verify that a job applicant is legally authorized to work in the United States. Notaries often receive contradictory information regarding these forms because the instructions on I-9s state that an employer may designate a ‘third party agent’ to verify an applicant’s ID and sign a statement attesting that they did so. Suggested ‘third party agents’ in the instructions include Notaries and attorneys.However, verifying a person’s work credentials is not an official notarial act. By signing such a statement and affixing your seal to it, you would effectively be notarizing your own signature, which is prohibited in most states. If you choose to perform this task, you must do so as a private individual. Do not use your Notary seal or write the title “Notary Public” under your signature. Be aware that private employers often add erroneous instructions to those already on the I-9, directing Notaries to place their seal on the form. Don’t do it."

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Kristie

Thank you for posting this. I have a client that asked for an I9 to be signed today.. Im not a very active notary so I did some research and found this article. Also, I called the NNA and they confirmed.

Thank you again for the heads up.

Aug 13, 2009 03:28 PM #1
Anonymous
Anonymous
AYIN International, Inc.

After review of this blog, it appears that their is a misunderstanding. It is true that notaries are prohibited from completing forms for signers, signing the form and then notarizing the same. Be that as it may, the I-9 form specifically uses the word "ATTEST" in conjunction with the employee applicant as the signer, not the notary. This leaves the witnessing of the signing of the I-9 form by the applicant legal and available for the notary public to execute. Attaching a simple acknowledgement or jurat along with the an I-9 form should be permissible. To conclude notaries are not needed to aid in Homeland Security efforts as it pertains to offering their services to work with employers is mis-leading and irresponsible.  

May 05, 2010 08:16 PM #2
Anonymous
Anonymous
Jack

In response to AYIN Intl.

That word 'Attest' still leaves the resposibility of capacity with the notary and in effect that means they are signing their own signature.

While it is possible for a notary to witness the signature in section 1 in the form of an acknowledgement this does not complete the form, which the I-9 specifically states is the ultimate responsiblity of the employer.

If you look closely at the 'Handbook for Employers' issues by the USCIS (m-274), a notary maybe named as a authorised agent 'third party'. The notary named is then to sign the document as an individual, not as a notary, as the sighting of the documents in not a notarial act. That notary must be designated as the agent, so this cannot be any notary.

Section 2 is asking for a persons capacity to work in the US-which notaries in some states are prohibited to do so.

The way employers are trying to circumnavigate this is by having either the notary or the employee attest that the copies of their documents are true respresentations/copies/of the original document by attaching certain additions and notary like wording to the document.

This does not work, as this is not truly sighting the document as required by the I-9. A notary cannot also certify a document in some states, and this would effectively be an attempt to do so- which would place the notary in an unacceptable position as to liabilty and may open them up to displinary action against them from the state in which they reside.

My word to notaries. Do not notarize I-9 documents for employers, unless you are willing to do so as a designated agent for the company,and then only as an individual, not as a notary.

Jun 12, 2010 12:58 PM #3
Anonymous
Anonymous
AYIN INTERNATIONAL, INC.

With all due respect to the gentlemen named "Jack", USCIS employer handbook reference to notaries acting as 3rd party agents on behalf of employers or others is being taken out of context. AYIN International, Inc. is not only developing a new patented online real-time audio/video digital notary public network platform, we are currently collaborating with "Employer Eligibility Services" who are requesting notaries participation as an added value proposition and layer of security protocol in the processing of the I-9 Form. 

Part of this collaboration effort is to develop certification and training to notary publics. Training in the laws, rules, procedures as formatted in § 274a.2  Verification of identity and employment authorization.  Authority 8 U.S.C. 1101, 1103, 1324a; Title VII of Public Law 110–229; 8 CFR part 2. Source 52 FR 16221, May 1, 1987, unless otherwise noted. Subpart A Employer Requirements.

To the gentlemen's point in conclusion employers will option to request as there agent pre-registered, certified, trained, AYIN International, Inc. network notaries. However via our network, employers may also request notarization. In this scenario the notary will simply perform witnessing the execution of the I-9 Form by the employer/agent and the employee. Astonished?! Well get ready because the nations 1st patented secure on-line real-time audio/video remote digital notarization is being developed and it will forever change notarization, effectively allowing notary publics to have new tool in performing the duly sworn task of authentication in the digital ecosystem. We look forward in working with you. Thank you for your comments and concerns. We also invite you to visit us at www.ayininternational.com for more information.

Jun 14, 2010 09:25 PM #4
Anonymous
Anonymous
Mtchu Mbembe

Great advert for AYIN International!

Jul 09, 2010 11:49 AM #5
Anonymous
Anonymous
AYIN International, Inc.

News

CNN: HIRING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS


 

LATE BREAKING NEWS!!!!

 

July 8, 2010


In a CNN interview today, a former Arizona Maricopa county attorney and co author of Arizona immigration law along with the President of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce gave their opinions on the hiring of illegal immigrants. 


The CNN reporter ask if the USCIS, a division of the Dept. of Homeland Security, E-verify system is working? The President of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce responded by stating,


"The E-verify system overall is working however there are a few holes. The major hole is in the area of identity theft. The system does a good job in determining if the Social Security number is valid but there are still problems in determining if it actually belongs to the person who presents it."

 

According to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS)  handbook on Instructions for Completing Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form) it expressly states the following,


"Employers may designate someone to fill out Forms I-9 for you, such as a personnel officer, foreman, agent or anyone else acting in your interest, such as a notary public. Please note that if someone else fills out Form I-9 on your behalf, they must carry out full Form I-9 responsibilities. For example, it is not acceptable for a notary public to view employment authorization and identity documents, but leave Section 2 for you to complete. The person who views an employee’s employment authorization documents should also complete and sign Section 2 on your behalf. However, you are still liable for any violations of the employer sanctions laws."

 

Pre-authorized Notary Publics on behalf of the employer must complete and sign section 2 of the I-9 form. However Notary Publics are prohibited from notarizing their own signature. Notary Publics are acting only as trusted third party agents in fact not in a notarial capacity. Therefore it is imperative that Notaries understand "how" they may participate in assisting employers.


 At AYIN International, Inc. we are aggressively supporting Notary Public's in becoming a viable solution offering assistance in stemming identity theft within the hiring process. Our patented technology will soon be available to facilitate Notary Publics to effectively engage the digital ecosystem and provide their services online, remotely and in real-time via our secure network.The future of e-Notarization is NOW!---

 

AYIN International, Inc.


Jul 09, 2010 04:52 PM #6
Anonymous
Anonymous
Julie Slayton

Hello AYIN,

I have been researching this very issue myself as we just took on all of our independent contractors (whom work in many different states) as employees.  I have had a great response on returning the completed I-9's however there were several that were refused by notaries in completing the I-9 form.  I am at a loss as to what steps to take to make sure our out of state instructors can complete an I-9 form and have section 2 completed in time for their 3rd day of employment.  Otherwise, we will not be able to employ them.  I appreciate your article above as i did have an SPHR suggest (on another site where I posted this very question) suggest the notary copy and notarize the documents, then me, as the employer, complete section 2.  It was an idea, but obviously not legal.  Have a great day. More research for me.

 

Aug 11, 2010 12:10 PM #7
Anonymous
Anonymous
AYIN International, Inc.

Greetings Julie,

There is so much confusion by Notaries Public on this particular matter that it is resulting in them missing out on a civic, economic, and ethical, opportunity in:

(1) assisting organizations like yours, in providing you with compliance support for your remote hirings

(2) assisting in stemming identity theft via unauthorized SSN usage, which results in employers receiving mismatch letters from SSA, which if disputed is a cost to you the employer and could bring fines from ICE ranging from 2k to 10k, in a random audit

(3) Finally demonstrate a Notaries Public capacity to engage electronic remote transactions

Either way AYIN International, Inc. is developing technology that will address all of the aforementioned. We appreciate you sharing your concerns, experiences and support. Also join our informational website at www.ayininternational.com to keep up with the latest in this exciting new opportunity for both Notaries and Businesses alike. Thanks again Julie

Aug 11, 2010 04:05 PM #8
Anonymous
Anonymous
Claudia Casasola

It all comes down to the law, and the State of California has very stiff fines for the notary if the laws are violated. Unless the State of California comes up with a law that says it is okay to sign the I-9 forms (and obviously instructions), I will not fill out or sign such forms for a customer. I do understand the needs of the out of state companies to have the I-9s filled out by a reliable party, so my suggestion would be for these companies to actually hire someone to represent them. It looks to me like AYIN international is trying to do something like that? Good for you!

Aug 13, 2010 01:15 PM #9
Anonymous
Anonymous
KL

Couldn't a notary attach a jurat after witnessing the customer fill out and sign part 1 of the I-9.... and then do a copy Certification by Document Custodian of the documents provided?

Sep 01, 2010 12:12 AM #10
Anonymous
Anonymous
Tim B.

"

Couldn't a notary attach a jurat after witnessing the customer fill out and sign part 1 of the I-9.... and then do a copy Certification by Document Custodian of the documents provided?"

 

According to federal law, the employer (or their authorized representative) must inspect the original documents (not a copy, certified or not), and fill out Section 2. So, no, sadly.

Dec 01, 2010 03:45 PM #11
Anonymous
Anonymous
Donna

A Notary Public may sign Section 2 as an authorized agent for an employer, as the Notary is only stating that they viewed the original documents.  The Notary is not confirming that the individual is authorized to work in the US.  At the end of the day, the employer is liable not the notary.

Mar 30, 2011 06:56 PM #12
Rainer
2,884
Claudia Casasola
Claudia Casasola, Notary Services - Covina, CA

It has been almost two years since I posted this blog entry. Not much has changed since then. Thanks all for your contributions/comments. I did some more research today, but all I could find was a notary in Lancaster, CA who says she notarizes the signature on section 1 of the I-9 form with a separate acknowledgement, and would sign section 2 if the employee provides a letter saying she's an authorized representative of the company for the purpose of completing the I-9 form, but does not notarize section 2. Fair enough.

I suppose is a way around having the part 1 signature notarized, and having the I-9 form completed. 

Anyway, I still have to see any company giving such authorization, or accepting only part 1 of the form to be notarized.

If you arrived at this site looking to have your I-9 notarized, I may be able to help you notarizing YOUR signature in part 1, but would require an authorization from the company for part 2, and will NOT notarize my signature.

 

May 17, 2011 04:19 PM #13
Anonymous
Anonymous
N

I work for a staffing company, we hire people outside of the state for clients in those states. I had a question about the I-9's. We are having an "authorized rep" fill out section 2 of the form, a person who can see the original List documents. Then they are faxing the filled out form to us. Do we need them to actually send us the form the ACTUALLY filled out, or does a faxed copy work?

Apr 03, 2012 10:42 AM #14
Rainer
2,884
Claudia Casasola
Claudia Casasola, Notary Services - Covina, CA

 

"I work for a staffing company, we hire people outside of the state for clients in those states. I had a question about the I-9's. We are having an "authorized rep" fill out section 2 of the form, a person who can see the original List documents. Then they are faxing the filled out form to us. Do we need them to actually send us the form the ACTUALLY filled out, or does a faxed copy work?"

I cannot answer your question with either option simply because I have no legal recourse to do so. You or the company should consult the US Citizenship and Immigration Services rules to see if they have something to say about that, or your company should decide ond what to accept for your records.

Apr 04, 2012 10:18 PM #15
Anonymous
Anonymous
Loves Key West

My job requires me to review I-9's for employees who work remotely.  I-9's are required by Homeland Security for every employee who works in the US.  The form is readily available on their website and can be downlaoded within a few minutes.  Homeland Security approves of the signing of I-9's by a Notary.  No state can overrule the Federal government.  Because my company does work for the Department of Energy, we are required to go one step further and enter all of the information into the Homeland Securities website which is call E-Verify.  I must match the copy of the document that you just viewed to on one the website and verify they are the same.  Eventually, every employer in the US will be required to do the same thing.  Do us all a favor... just sign the form and collect your money.  You are looking at state and government issued documents and attesting to the fact that the person sitting in front of you is indeed the person pictured in the document.  You are not doing anything illegal!!!

Mar 25, 2013 01:01 PM #16
Anonymous
Anonymous
Loves Key West

P.S. The form recently changedbut the old form can still be used until May of this year. 

Mar 25, 2013 01:05 PM #17
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