Answers - Payroll 101 - Employment Eligibility

Employment Eligibility for Production Companies

Form I-9

Form I-9 helps employers to verify individuals who are authorized to work in the United States. Every employee hired after November 6, 1986 must fill out an I-9.

On March 1, 2003 the former Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) were transferred to three new agencies in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS): U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). You do not need to complete a Form I-9 for persons who are hired before November 7, 1986, employed for casual domestic work in a private home, independent contractors, or persons not working on U.S. soil.

Every Form I-9 must be fully completed within 3 business days of the first day of work.

Section 1 – Every employee needs to complete section 1 when he or she begins to work by filling in the correct information and signing and dating the form.

Section 2 – The production employee must present to the employer an original document or documents that establish identity and employment authorization within 3 business days of the date employment starts. List A documents establish both identity and employment authorization. List B documents establish identity only. List C documents establish employment authorization only. The employee can choose which documents he or she wants to present from the Lists of Acceptable Documents.

After documents have been presented and examined by the employer, the date employment begins is entered and then signed and dated.

Form W-4

The Form W-4 is designed to tell the employer how many withholding allowances the production employee is claiming, this number will determine the amount to withhold from the employee’s wages for federal and state income tax. The form may also indicate that the employee wants an additional dollar amount withheld beyond the amount based on the withholding allowances claimed.

Employees cannot indicate on their W-4 that they wish to have a flat dollar amount of tax or a percentage of earnings withheld rather than an amount based on the number of withholdings allowances that can be claimed.

Employers must keep all employees’ W-4 forms for at least four years after the last return was filed using the information on the W-4.

Verifying Social Security Numbers

The request to see an employee’s Social Security card is only for tax withholding and reporting purposes, not to substantiate the employee’s right to work in the United States.

E-Verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee’s Form I-9, to data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility. You will be notified if the name and Social Security Number do not match.

The following are some examples of invalid social security numbers:

  • SSNs having 000 or 666 as the first 3 digits
  • SSNs greater than 773 as the first 3 digits
  • SSNs having 00 as the fourth and fifth digits
  • SSNs having 0000 as the sixth through ninth digits

Start Card

A start card must be filled out for every new employee per show. A start card is show specific, not production company specific. One of the reasons entertainment payroll companies like Media Services require the form is that we are obligated to inform various state governments of any new hires within two weeks. A new start card should be filled out for any changes during the production: address change, rate change, department change, account code, union change, job classification or work state.

Foreign Documentation

All documents must be valid and not expired. The following verify employment authorization and identity:

  • U.S. Passport or passport card.
  • Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551).
  • Foreign passport that contains a temporary I-551 stamp or temporary I-551 printed notation on a machine-readable immigrant visa (MRIV).
  • Employment Authorization Document Card that contains a photograph (Form I-766).
  • In the case of a nonimmigrant alien authorized to work for a specific employer, a foreign passport with Form I-94 or Form I-94A bearing the same name as the passport, and the period of endorsement has not expired and has no restrictions or limitations identified on the form.
  • Passport from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) or the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) with Form I-94 or Form I-94A indicating nonimmigrant admission under the Compact of Free Association between the United States and the FSM or RMI.