Employers often use notaries to complete the Form I-9 for their remote employees. Notaries, when doing so, act in their capacity as an agent or representative of the company and not in their capacity as a notary public. For employers with remote hires, this is helpful as the law requires that an employer (or their agent or representative) must visually inspect the document or documents presented to complete Section 2 of the Form I-9 to confirm that the documents relate to the employee completing the form and appear genuine. The federal agency responsible for the Form I-9, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), states that it is acceptable to use a notary in this capacity. But enter California.
In California, notaries are not qualified to complete a Form I-9, even in a non-notarial capacity, unless they are qualified and bonded as immigration consultants under state law. An immigration consultant in California must be bonded and pass a background check.
According to the National Notary Association (NNA), “In August 2014, the California Secretary of State’s Notary Public & Special Filings Section clarified with the NNA that California Notaries who are not qualified and bonded as immigration consultants under the Business and Professions Code Sections 22440-22449, may not complete or make the certification on Form I-9, even in a non-notarial capacity. The Secretary’s office considers Form I-9 to be an immigration form. Any California Notary who is not an immigration consultant violates Government Code Section 8223(c).”