Eligibility to Work: I-9 Form

Columbia University complies with federal laws and regulations concerning verification of identity and employment eligibility and associated recordkeeping for employees hired to work in the United States.  

Columbia University is an E-Verify employer. As an E-Verify employer, Columbia participates in the federal government's E-Verify program, which ensures that the University is compliant with e-verify requirements as they relate to federal grants. In addition, participating in E-Verify ensures that the University can continue to hire scholars on F-1 Visas who are utilizing the STEM OPT program.  

With respect to new hires and rehires, the E-Verify process is completed in conjunction with a new hire's completion of the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification upon commencement of employment.  E-Verify is not used as a tool to pre-screen candidates.  

Columbia uses an online system, I-9 Management (provided by Equifax), to collect and process the required documentation from new hires to comply with these laws. There are I-9 Service Centers on the Morningside campus, Manhattanville, the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

To view the University's I-9 Policy, visit the University Policies Site.

Work Authorization

210 Kent Hall

615 West 131st Street - 4th Floor

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory 
61 Route 9W
Administration Building, Room 208
Palisades, NY 10964

CUIMC Human Resources 
Georgian Building, 2nd Floor
617 West 168th Street

  • Medicine - PH 8 West Room 862
  • Mailman School of Public Health - 600 W. 168th, 7th Floor
  • Pediatrics - Children's Hospital CHC Room 104
  • Surgery - PH 14, Room 105
  • Psychiatry - 1051 Riverside Drive, Unit 5
  • OB/GYN - PH 16021
  • College of Dental Medicine - P&S 7th Floor
  • Neurology - 710 W. 168th, 9th Floor room 100

The Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. 

  • Section 1 of the Form I-9 must be completed after an offer of employment is accepted, but no later than the first day of employment.
  • Section 2 must be completed no later than the third business day after your start date. Section 2 of the form must be completed in person at one of the University’s I-9 center.
    • E-Verify is integrated with the I-9 process and will be completed at the same time section 2 is completed.
  • The address on the I-9 does not necessarily need to match the address on the tax forms (W-4, W2, etc.).  The employee should indicate the address of where s/he is staying at that point in time when completing the I-9. Therefore, it can be a hotel address, the address of a friend’s house, etc. However, the address on the I-9 should never be the place of employment.

For all Faculty and Staff:

  1. Direct the new hire to complete Section 1 of the online I-9 Form and sign the form electronically after they have accepted the offer, but no later than the first day of employment.

    • The employee should review the list of acceptable documents for Section 2; the list is provided upon completion of Section 1 online. Please note: expired documents are not acceptable by order of the Department of Homeland Security.

  2. Ensure that the employee goes to one of the I-9 Service Centers and completes section 2 with a Columbia University representative no later than the third business day after his or her start date.

    The Columbia University representative refers the employee to the list of acceptable documents for Section 2 and advises him or her to present original unexpired documents: either one from List A OR one from List B and one from List C. In carrying out this step, the Columbia University representative cannot tell the employee which documents to present or which documents are preferable.

  3. Columbia University representative examines the original documents provided by the employee to verify that they are on the list of acceptable documents, that they appear genuine and relate to the employee, and that they evidence the employee's unexpired employment eligibility. Employee must be physically present when Section 2 is being completed. The Columbia University representative reviews Section 1 for accuracy and completeness and completes Section 2.

  4. Columbia University representative fully completes Section 2 “Employer Review and Verification" with the pertinent information from the employee's documents, including document numbers, issuing authority and expiration dates, if any.

  5. Columbia University representative electronically signs, dates and completes Section 2 "Employer Certification" including the date of employment.

  6. E-Verify is initiated automatically after Section 2 is completed. For detailed information on the possible results of the E-Verify process, see E-Verify Process Summary from Equifax.

Note: On the very rare occasion when a paper I-9 must be completed, please ensure that you are using the most current version of the form.  If you require a paper I-9, you can print a copy of the Form I-9 directly from the Department of Homeland Security.

An employee who leaves the University and is subsequently rehired, regardless of the length of separation,  must within the first 3 business days either:

  • Complete a new Form I-9 (if the prior I-9 was completed more than 3 years ago); or
  • Complete section 3, with the rehire date. New documentation for completing section 3 is only required if the prior work authorization document is expired

Certain academic officers, including part-time faculty, officers of research, and student officers are marked as "terminated" in PAC at the end of their current appointment even though they will be reappointed for the following academic year. This is due to the way the current University Payroll and Human Resources systems operate and those individuals are not considered a “termination” requiring a new I-9, as the individual is not considered to have had a break in service for I-9 purposes.

If the department has a question about whether or not an individual requires a new I-9 or not, please contact Kathryn Viola ([email protected]).

When hiring an individual who will be working outside of the tristate area, departments can work with the employee to designate an authorized external institution to complete the employee's I-9 on behalf of Columbia University. Section 2 of the Form I-9 must be completed within 3 business days of the individual’s hire date.

  • Remote I-9 set-up requires at least 4 business days advanced notice
  • The departmental HR representative must reach out to CUHR to arrange for a remote I-9 by contacting Kathryn Viola at [email protected].
Important Notice

Legal Violation & Fines

The University is subject to periodic audits by the US Federal Government and is subject to fines for incorrect I-9s. Fines could be incurred for mistakes like information omissions, completing an I-9 after the date of hire as well as more egregious offenses like not having an I-9 on file for an employee or hiring an illegal immigrant to work (meaning having constructive knowledge of a violation).