In August 2014, Debra Bowen, the then current Secretary of State of California determined that the I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was an immigration document and as such, only an attorney, a representative accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice, or a person who is registered by the California Secretary of State and bonded as an immigration consultant under the Business and Professions Code may assist a client in completing the form.
(Business and Professions Code section 22440)
Previously, remote HR departments would direct their new employees to seek a local notary to assist with the I-9 and to document the identification documents the new hire presented. After that determination, it became illegal in California for a notary to act as Authorized Representative for a remote HR department. Instead, the new employee would need to locate an Immigation Consultant to help them.
This decision created an undue hardship for countless new employees who didn’t have a local HR department they could travel to for ID authentication.
Licensed and bonded Immigration Consultants are few and far between. The cost of the bond can be prohibitive, and many Immigration Consultants are ordered to “Cease and Desist” when their bond lapses or they are suspected of fraud.
Some employees misunderstand that what they need is a notary that is also an Immigration Consultant. That is incorrect. The I-9 does not require notarization. Even when notaries were permitted to assist with the I-9, they did not do so as notaries, they did so as a designated representative of the hiring company.
Another reason why it would be difficult to find a notary who is also an Immigration Consultant is that in California, a law prohibits a notary from advertising as a notary if they are also an Immigration Consultant. The law was established to prevent fraud where an Immigration Consultant might misleadingly advertise themselves as a Notario Publico. A Notario Publico is a highly trained legal professional akin to a lawyer in many Latin American countries, whereas a notary public is a commissioned officer of the state that identifies signers and witnesses the signatures on legal documents.
If you are located in the Bay Area and need an authorized representative to assist with your I-9, call Totally Notary for assistance. We have a solution.
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Thank you so much for this information. I’m in California and needed this exact service of getting an I9 notarized and spent the day turning in circles. Your site clearly explained the issue and I will be forwarding this to my remote HR out of state since based on their directions they don’t have this information.
Where does it say that an I-9 has to be filled out by a Immigration Consultant?
The USCIS I-9 is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and as such, is an immigration form.
Per CA law: Only an attorney, a representative accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice, or a person who is registered by the California Secretary of State and bonded as an immigration consultant under the Business and Professions Code may assist a client in completing immigration forms. (Business and Professions Code section 22440)
What happens, if I am just getting an I-9 notarized for a job?
The I-9 is not notarized. It is required by HR departments to prove a new hire is eligible to work in the U.S. A CA notary is not legally qualified to complete the I-9 due to our state laws. An Immigration Consultant is authorized to assist with the form in CA.