CAN A CALIFORNIA NOTARY NOTARIZE AN I-9 FORM?
The straight, simple and clear answer is “NO”.
Why then are notaries in California regularly notarizing I-9 forms?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the notarization of I-9 forms, because the Secretary of State is silent in the handbook about NOT notarizing I-9s. Instead the handbook only addresses documents that can be notarized. The confusion is further compounded when the I-9 is accompanied by official notification from the Federal government or employer that the I-9 needs to be notarized in accordance with their guidelines.
This is not the first instance where the federal laws conflict with the state laws that govern notaries. As duly licensed notaries in the State of California, we are primarily governed by the laws and rules established by the Secretary of State and therefore should not notarize I-9 forms. It begs the question, whether $10/- that you receive is worth the “civil penalty not to exceed $100,000 for each violation of the Business and Professions Code §22445 that you will be assessed and collected in a civil action brought by any person injured by the violation or in a civil action brought in the name of the people of the State of California by the attorney general, a district attorney or city attorney”.
Who can notarize an I-9?
California Notaries who are qualified and bonded as an Immigration consultant under the Business and Professions Code Sections 22440-22449 are the only people who can lawfully complete the verification of an I-9. Furthermore, when the Immigration consultant verifies the I-9 documents, he is only doing it in the capacity of an Immigration Consultant and NOT as a Notary. The SOS considers I-9 to be an Immigration form and therefore there is that requirement to be a duly licensed Immigration Consultant. A California Notary who notarizes an I-9 is in violation of Government Code Section 8223 ©
Refer those who come to you for notarizing an I-9 to an Immigration Consultant (recommended by the NNA and SOS), save yourself from exorbitant penalties and possible jail time and simply stick to knitting as it were.