Different Surnames on I-9 Documentation?


What is the responsibility of the employer when a newly hired employee provides I-9 documentation that shows two different surnames? Specifically, a driver's license and a Social Security card that do not match. The employee states that the SS card has her maiden name and her driver's license has her married name.


The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) addresses this issue on its website at “Examining Documents” where it states the following:

"If your employee ... provides a document in which the name the employee wrote in Section 1 is completely or substantially different from the name on the document ... then you should ... ask the employee the reason for the name change. If your employee maintains that the name in Section 1 is his or her legal name and you are satisfied that the document reasonably appears to relate to the employee, you may accept the document." The USCIS further recommends that employers in this situation "attach a memo to the Form I-9 explaining the discrepancy. If the employee voluntarily provides proof of a name change, you may keep a copy of it with the memo."

The employee in question has presented documents with two different surnames (and presumably she used one of them when completing the Form I-9). It is certainly feasible that the married employee in question might have her maiden name on her social security card (if she has not yet updated the document) and her married name on her driver's license. As the USCIS notes above, if the documents reasonably appear to be genuine and to relate to person presenting them, you may accept them. We do recommend attaching a memo to the I-9 to indicate that the employee advised that the discrepancy in the surnames on the documents is because one is her maiden name (SS Card) and the other is her married last name (driver's license). Should she present a copy of her marriage license or similar certificate to evidence this further -- although this is not required and we advise against mandating that she do so -- the employer can make a copy of such document and attach it to the memo and I-9 as well.

The Question of the Month is provided by Enquiron, a company wholly independent from Federated Insurance. Federated provides its clients access to this information through the Federated Employment Practices Network with the understanding that neither Federated nor its employees provide legal or employment advice. As such, Federated does not warrant the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of the information herein. This information may be subject to restrictions and regulation in your state. Consult with your own qualified legal counsel regarding your specific facts and circumstances.



Published Date:March 16, 2021

Categories: HR Question of the Month