Q - When filling out the I-9 Form, can an employer accept documents that establish identity (a list B document) and work authorization (a list C document) for an employee with one document in her maiden i.e, single, married or divorced name, and one document in a different name, e.g. her married, single or divorced name?
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A - When an employee is providing documentation for I-9 purposes, certain documents establish both work authorization and identity (list A documents).  A permanent resident card is one of those documents.  Thus that is the only document needed for a valid I-9 form.  If the employee shows another document for other purposes, e.g,. a social security card with a different name for tax purposes, i.e, a married name, that document is irrelevant for I-9 purposes.   An employer may wish to check with the  governmental entity that requires that information as to what to do.   But again THIS WOULD BE UNRELATED TO I-9 PURPOSES.

It is more problematical if an employee presents a document in one name to establish entity and a document in another name to establish authorization to work in the United States.  If the person states the different names on the documents are because they have recently married or divorced, the safest course may be to have a posted policy applicable to all persons who have to fill out an I-9 form that states:

Names on documents to prove identity (a list B document) and documents to prove work authorization (a list C document) must match.  If they do not, employees must show a receipt that such documents have been applied for.  It does not matter if both documents are in a person's single name or in a person's married name, but in either case both documents must match.  If a person has a document that establishes both work authorization and identity (a list A document), it may be in either an employee's single or married name.

Note neither USCIS, Department of Homeland Security,  nor the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice, has expressed an opinion about this suggested solution.  In response to a request, OSC had this to say in an April 5, 2007 email:

Thank you for your e-mail dated March 22, 2007, asking if OSC is aware of any guidance that differs from the information posted on your website, www.i-9help.com, regarding whether an employer can "accept documents that establish identity (a list B document) and work authorization (a list C document) for an employee with one document in her maiden i.e., single, or married name, and one document in her married or divorced name?" http://www.i-9help.com/

Although we are unaware of any guidance published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or any other federal agency specifically addressing this issue, the following information may be relevant to your inquiry. The Form I-9 allows an employee to enter both her current and maiden name in Section 1 of the form. However, employees should report any name change due to marriage, adoption, divorce, et cetera, promptly to the Social Security Administration. According to guidance provided by the Internal Revenue Service, the employee "must complete the Form SS5, Application for a Social Security Card to have the change made on their social security record. Form SS5 and additional information is available on the web at www.socialsecurity.gov. They can also call 1-800-772-1213 or visit a local social security office." http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=155246,00.html. In addition, an employee may request a receipt verifying his or her name change at a local social security office.

As you know, DHS’ Office of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the federal agency responsible for promulgating regulations pertaining to the Form I-9. Therefore, if you have not already done so, you may wish to contact the USCIS Office of Business Liaison for further information at 1-800-357-2099, or via facsimile at (202) 272-1865. Regarding the use of receipts, for example, the USCIS Office of Business Liaison published an October 7, 2005, document titled, "The Form I-9 Process in a Nutshell," explaining when an employee may submit "receipts showing that they have applied for initial applications for documents or for applications for extension of documents." http://www.uscis.gov/files/article/EIB102.pdf

We hope this information is helpful to you.

Should a question come up about the use of receipts, the instructions for the I-9 Form state:

If employees are authorized to work, but are unable to present the required document(s) within three business days, they must present a receipt for the application of the document(s) within three business days and the actual document(s) within ninety (90) days.

Different considerations are present should this problem come up if an I-9 Form needs reverification.  The instructions for the form state:

If an employee's name has changed at the time this form is being updated/reverified, complete Block A.

The reference to Block A appears to be to Block A contained in Section 3 of the I-9 form pertaining to reverification.  There is no apparent requirement that a new document establishing identity (a list B document) be presented. 

As the question indicates, this is a problem that almost exclusively impacts on women.  I am hopeful that USCIS will issue some definitive guidance in the near future on what to do in the situation questioned about.