I9 Woes
March 11, 2010 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Can't find my birth certificate. New social security card will take 2 weeks to arrive. Starting new job...what can I do?

I am starting a new job on Monday and they will want me to do my I9.

I don't have a passport. I normally do the Drivers License + birth certificate route.

Last night I tore up my apartment looking for my birth certificate. It is nowhere to be found. This morning I went to the SSA office to get a replacement card but it will take 2 weeks for it to arrive.

Am I completely screwed? What can I do?
posted by ian1977 to Work & Money (19 answers total)

When I started this job, they wanted to actually see (and photocopy) my social security card, and of course I couldn't find it. I told HR that I had to apply for a new one, and they were fine with waiting for it. They accepted my driver's license in the meantime.
posted by rtha at 7:42 AM on March 11, 2010

In some counties you can print certified copies of birth certificates at the local library. Where do you live?
posted by SLC Mom at 7:43 AM on March 11, 2010

Did the SSA give you a piece of paper at the time? With someone's signature on it? When this happened to me, I got a signed and stamped paper that took the place of my social security card until the new actual card arrived.
posted by gracedissolved at 7:43 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you are in Minnesota and were born here, I have walked into the Hennepin County Government Center just after 7am (to avoid the lines) and walked out less than twenty minutes later with a copy of my BC. It should cost $12-16.

From the mdh website: "You may go to a registrar's office in any county in Minnesota for births that took place during or after 1900 and for deaths that took place during or after 1997."
posted by soelo at 7:52 AM on March 11, 2010

You never actually had your actual birth certificate. What you had was a certified copy. Probably the easiest thing is going to be getting another certified copy (or even an uncertified copy — just a photocopy or fax) from the county records office or wherever that has yours on file.

In the few occasions when I've ever had to use my birth certificate for something, nobody has ever actually looked for the embossed seal that marks the difference between a certified copy and a plain-old-photocopy. (Theoretically people are supposed to, but they don't. I have a certified copy somewhere but I mostly just use photocopies of that one — third generation copies — as necessary.)

So I'd see if you could just get a copy faxed to your new employer and if they'd be satisfied with that. Perhaps it varies with appearance and YMMV, but the eligibility-to-work checks at every job I've ever had have been really cursory.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:54 AM on March 11, 2010

Talk to them. They probably don't need it *right now*, but before they have to report taxes to the gub'ment. In their eyes, in a few weeks if you have no proof, then they cut you off and pay you nothing.
posted by cmiller at 7:59 AM on March 11, 2010

If you have a receipt from the SSA, that will be good enough in the short term.

You'll need to complete Sec. 1 of the I-9 on your first day, and the employer needs to review and verify *something* that proves your work authorization, within your first three days on the job. The receipt showing that you applied for a Social Security card will be sufficient, but your employer will need to complete a new I-9 when you receive the actual card (and they must do that within 90 days of your employment start date).
posted by cac at 8:10 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

A passport will suffice in lieu of a social security card, even considered superior.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:11 AM on March 11, 2010

A passport will suffice in lieu of a social security card, even considered superior.

He'll be able to get a birth certificate before he can get a passport.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:13 AM on March 11, 2010

A passport will suffice in lieu of a social security card, even considered superior.

Actually, under the law, employers can't prefer any specific combination of documents that allowable for an I-9.
posted by dcjd at 8:25 AM on March 11, 2010

Thanks all. The reassuring words of strangers on the internets soothes my panicky soul.

I actually just got off the phone with the HR rep. The receipt from the social security office is fine, just need to show them my actual card when it arrives.

To anyone else reading this....stop what you are doing and find your birth certificate and social security card. Can't find it? Do what it takes to get new copies. Don't be like me!
posted by ian1977 at 8:38 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

A passport is superior in that it establishes both identity and eligibility. See the document combination list. An expired passport suffices too, btw.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:39 AM on March 11, 2010

jeffburdges: Expired U.S. passports (and some other expired documents) used to be acceptable, but can't be accepted under the 2009 revision of the I-9 form.

I'm working on an internal I-9 audit project right now, and that's just one of the little distinctions that are driving me nuts.
posted by cac at 8:45 AM on March 11, 2010

In some counties you can print certified copies of birth certificates at the local library.

Respectfully disagree. Birth certificates are typically available either through a state health department or a county clerk's office. Libraries do not have legal authority to issue certified copies of birth certificates, or any vital records (death, or marriage). (Also while we're on this subject, and although not raised here, hospitals never have copies of birth (or death) records - it's another common misperception I've encountered in years of assisting people in finding these records).

desjardins has it right - the fastest commercial service is vitalchek, they are a third party who simply brokers their connections to state health departments and county clerks to guarantee fast turn-around (often contacting a health department or county clerk for a certified copy of a certificate can take days, or even weeks). they are there for 'rush' situations, and charge fees accordingly.

if fees are a concern, and you have time, it's best just to contact the governmental agency responsible for issuing the certified copy. simply search your state's name along with "birth certificate" and you should be fine.
posted by kuppajava at 8:47 AM on March 11, 2010

I'm going to second ian1977s request that you all make sure you know where your documents are. I work in subsidized housing and you must have proof of your US citizenship or your "eligible non-citizen" status. I've never had a non-citizen who didn't have their green card or an entry permit at the ready, but I've had lots of US citizens who didn't have their birth certificates which jeopardized their accessing affordable housing. Thankfully, our state is pretty speedy at filling these requests!
posted by vespabelle at 9:37 AM on March 11, 2010

In my state there is not even a waiting period if you go into a registrar's office, you can have it in hand before you leave. So, if you still live in the state where you were born, it could be faster and cheaper to go directly to the government.
posted by soelo at 10:35 AM on March 11, 2010

I've worked in HR and processed thousands of I9s. In hundreds of cases, the new hire was missing documents. In all of those, the HR rep said "Just get them to us as soon as you can, and don't tell anyone." The government audits randomly, but it's really random, and really rare, so most HR depts work with that knowledge.
posted by nevercalm at 6:25 PM on March 11, 2010

Kuppajava: Orange County CA used to have this service. It was actually a kiosk in the library, and cost about $10 to use. I got copies of birth certificates for both my kids there once. Embossed and everything. It saved me about a 40 mile drive. Don't know if the service is still available. I can't find it mentioned on line..
posted by SLC Mom at 10:11 PM on March 11, 2010

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