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Form I-9 How To Guide: Employing Refugee/Asylee(s)

The Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs recently published a press release pertaining to the employment of two refugees resolving allegations that the company discriminated under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), when it impermissibly delayed the start date of two refugees after requiring them to provide specific Form I-9 documentation.  Best Packing’s violations occurred when they required the refugees to supply the company with additional Form I-9 verification documents in excess of the law. The claim alleged that other non-refugee employees were not required to supply documents other than state issued licenses and social security cards.

In two charges filed with the department, the refugees alleged that they were not allowed to begin employment until they produced unexpired, Department of Homeland Security-issued employment authorization documents, despite the fact that they initially presented sufficient documentation for employment eligibility verification purposes. The charging parties had presented unexpired state identification cards and unrestricted Social Security cards.  The state ID’s and unrestricted SS cards were deemed insufficient proof of work authorization.

It is necessary for all those charged with Form I-9 processing at your organization to be very familiar with the list of acceptable documents and to have a thorough understanding of the fact that each employee has the right to present a list A document or a combination B plus C document as long as they are acceptable documents, appear to be genuine and represent the employee that is before you.

Under the settlement agreement, Best Packing agreed to pay $4,379 in back pay and comply with all the requirements of the INA.  Understanding the Form I-9 requirements for verifying refugee/asylee(s) will prevent your company from falling victim to similar discriminatory hiring practices.

The process by which an employer is required to verify the employment eligibility of a refugee/asylee(s) when presented with documentation other than the above-referenced List B plus List C combination, can be a bit complicated.  Let’s review this.

Asylees and Refugees are individuals seeking the protection of the United States due to persecution suffered in the home country based upon: race, religion, nationality, social group, or political ideology. These individuals are authorized to work in the US because of their immigration status. When presented with documentation of asylum or refugee status, it is advisable to be aware of the following in regard to examining the I-9 form and the documents presented:


  1. The employee should check the “An alien authorized to work” box
  2. Write the I-94 or Alien Registration Number in the first space
  3. Write “N/A” in the second space, because their employment authorization does not expire



Acceptable Documents are I-94, I-766, or their Employment Authorization Document also known as an EAD card


NOTE: this section presents two different scenarios that require strict attention to time restrictions and combinations of required documents to be presented in order to comply with the USCIS regulations. To complete this section choose from the applicable scenarios below:


Scenario One: Refugee presents a Form I-94:

When presented with a Form I-94 containing an unexpired refugee admission stamp, the employer must accept it as a receipt establishing both employment authorization and identity for 90 days. After 90-days, the employee must present either an EAD or a combination of a List B document and List C (an unrestricted social security card.)


Scenario Two: Asylee presents a Form I-94:

An employer must accept Form I-94 or Form I-94A with one of the stamps or notations below indicating asylee status:

  • Asylum granted indefinitely
  • 8 CFR 274a.12(a)(5)
  • INA 208

This is a List C document that does not require/contain an expiration date. However, the asylee will need to present a List B identity document with this Form I-94.

*Decisions from immigration judges granting asylum are not acceptable.



For further assistance on training your company’s hiring personnel on all of the requirements of Form I-9 compliance, contact one of our immigration professionals at or call 562 612.3996.

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