I recently applied, and was hired, for a retail position. When I was completing the onboarding forms online, I entered my ssn and I selected which form of ID I would present them at the store. The onboarding site stated I could either show them my passport (from List A) or show them two other forms of ID (from List B and C) for the I-9. I chose the passport option since that seemed easier.

When I got to the store, the manager wanted to take photos of both my passport and ID; however, I lost my current CA ID card, so I let her take a photo of my old CA ID card.

After that, the manager emailed me and wanted me to send a photo of my school ID, so I emailed a photo of that. Then the manager wanted me to either send a photo of my social security card or come into the store so they could take a photo of it.

I never responded back to them after that. To me, it seemed unusual that they would require extra forms of identifications when I provided my passport. Is that legal or am I just being paranoid?

  • 3
    "Is this a scam?" is probably the more relevant question. Jun 21, 2023 at 10:31
  • 1
    I was hired by a major shoe retailer for one of their outlets. I doubt the company itself would try a scam like this. The I-9 paperwork they provided stated that a passport is sufficient show both identification and employment authorization. Don't understand why the other forms of ID were necessary in the first place. Jun 21, 2023 at 11:06
  • 2
    I don't see why asking for additional forms of ID would be illegal. Why would complying with I-9 requirements preclude them from asking for additional forms of ID?
    – joeqwerty
    Jun 21, 2023 at 12:33
  • @joeqwerty: Because, depending on the document(s) presented, it might constitute discrimination on the basis of national origin, which is illegal in the US.
    – Kevin
    Jun 21, 2023 at 20:58
  • 1
    Note that it is always legal to ask. What you seem to want to know is whether they can require.
    – keshlam
    Jun 23, 2023 at 4:02

3 Answers 3


For the purposes of the I-9 form the employer has to follow the instructions regarding the acceptance of documents:

You, the employer or authorized representative, must physically examine, in the employee's physical presence, the unexpired document(s) the employee presents from the Lists of Acceptable Documents to complete the Document fields in Section 2.

You cannot specify which document(s) an employee may present from these lists. If you discriminate in the Form I-9 process based on an individual's citizenship status, immigration status, or national origin, you may be in violation of the law and subject to sanctions such as civil penalties and be required to pay back pay to discrimination victims. A document is acceptable as long as it reasonably appears to be genuine and to relate to the person presenting it. Employees must present one selection from List A or a combination of one selection from List B and one selection from List C.

List A documents show both identity and employment authorization. Some List A documents are combination documents that must be presented together to be considered a List A document, such as a foreign passport together with a Form I-94 containing an endorsement of the alien’s nonimmigrant status.

From this three things can be noticed.

  • The company can't specify which documents can be used.
  • Depending on which list A document is used there may be two parts.
  • The Documents can't be expired.

I am assuming that by passport you meant you showed a US passport.

however, I lost my current CA ID card, so I let her take a photo of my old CA ID card.

One thing that may have confused the person was the showing of an expired ID card. They can't accept expired documents. It may have been some internal procedure they were following which said, if the document has expired, then ask for a different document. That confusion could have caused them to trying to get a document from B and C.

I would go back to the store, talk to the person who has the I-9 responsibilities and show them your passport.

  • 1
    They don't need to show their SSN card for I9 purposes but they sure need to show it for tax reasons. It would be illegal NOT to do so.
    – Hilmar
    Jun 21, 2023 at 13:08
  • 1
    The Social security card is in list C. Jun 21, 2023 at 13:15
  • 5
    @mhoran_psprep - but the SSN is REQUIRED in the employment process. The card isn't necessarily needed, but you DEFINITELY have to give your employer your SSN so they can take out your taxes appropriately, and this employer has probably deemed it simplest if they get the SSN by copying the card. (OK, there are exceptions to them needing the SSN, like when you are a contractor, but since there's an I-9 in play here, I don't think any of that applies). Jun 21, 2023 at 13:36
  • Is taking a photo of the SS card required? that seems fishy.
    – rtaft
    Jun 21, 2023 at 19:06
  • 4
    @MichaelKohne: It doesn't matter what the employer thinks is "simplest." The instructions as quoted in this answer are very clear: If the employee presents a valid US passport (a list A document), you cannot then ask for a social security card (a list C document). You can ask for the SSN for tax purposes, and indeed you must do so if applicable (some jobs are exempt from social security for historical reasons), but you can't say "I will only hire employees who show me a social security card."
    – Kevin
    Jun 21, 2023 at 20:53

Like you, I also prefer to show my passport since that only means wrangling one document instead of two. About 50% of the time, I have the same type of experience that you describe. I'll caution you not to be eager to attribute this to malice, as it tends to be (at least in my experiences) merely a symptom of a poorly-planned process.

One time when I was having this problem, I was on the same side of the desk as the HR rep and I could watch what he was doing on the computer. The process that he was following included steps for "photocopy drivers license" and "photocopy social security card", and the form had places to attach those copies. He had to dig around for about 10 minutes to find an older, "alternate" version of the form that asked for the passport instead of the other two documents. He told me that practically everyone he sees uses their drivers license/ID and social security card, and he only sees one or two passports a year (most Americans don't even have one). For that reason, he never can remember the process for using passports and has to look it up every time.

The law says that they have to accept a passport alone for your I-9, but the process for doing so might be more complicated than the more common cases. Your manager may simply not know how to process that or doesn't want to jump through the extra hoops to do so, and is instead trying to steer you towards the more common case that they're comfortable with. I suspect that you'd have similar issues if you tried to use one of the other uncommon forms of ID like a Native American tribal document, or a form FS-240 (used to document a US citizen that was born abroad). I've even known people that had problems when using drivers licenses when those licenses were issued by a different state.

Also, don't forget that passports have lots of anti-counterfeiting measures, many of which mean that they don't photocopy well at all. On a cheap copy machine, the photo may not even be recognizable. Some companies keep copies of your photo ID in your personnel file. If they're unable to make a serviceable copy of your passport, they might reasonably ask if you have a different ID they could use. That would be an internal company policy and not part of the I-9 process, though.


Then the manager wanted me to either send a photo of my social security card or come into the store so they could take a photo of it.

Every employer needs a copy of your social security card for tax and (as the name implies) social security purposes. They can't pay you without one. Not only is it not illegal, they are actually required to collect this information.

Is that legal

Yes, it's legal.

or am I just being paranoid?

Probably. You may have misunderstood the reason for them asking for your SSN. Hiring paperwork is one of the main reason the social security card exists in the first place.

  • 11
    Employers do not need a copy of the social security card. They need a signed W4 which has space for the SSN.
    – David R
    Jun 21, 2023 at 14:18
  • 9
    I promise no employer I've ever had has seen my original Soc Sec card.
    – Tiger Guy
    Jun 21, 2023 at 16:07
  • 6
    Absolutely wrong: Every employer needs a copy of your social security card .
    – Peter K.
    Jun 21, 2023 at 19:39

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