The Most Common Errors Relating to I-9 Forms

After assisting employers in auditing thousands of I-9 forms and in improving their immigration-related policies and practices, I have observed some common errors that employers historically have made.  Some of the process errors or issues include:

  • Failing to properly train those employer representatives who are responsible for ensuring the completion of a timely and properly completed I-9 form.
  • Failing to have a written policy that outlines the responsibilities of appropriate management and human resources relating to immigration compliance.
  • Failing to take precautions to ensure that the employers contractors and subcontractors are complying with their obligations relating to the I-9 form.

Other  errors are related to the completion of the I-9 form itself, which include:

  • Missing I-9s for current employees or for terminated employees during the applicable retention period.  The retention period is three years from date of hire or one year from date of termination, whichever is longer.
  • Using expired I-9 forms.  Employers must ensure they are using the most current version of the I-9 form.
  • Using the Spanish version of the I-9 form, except where it is allowed (Puerto Rico).
  • Completing the I-9 form late.  The employee must complete section 1 of the I-9 form on or before the first date of hire.  The employer must complete section 2 of the I-9 form within three days of the date of hire.
  • Failing to ensure that the employee signs and dates section 1.
  • Accepting documents that are not on the list of acceptable documents.  For example, accepting a hospital-issued birth certificate as a list C document, when only government-issued birth certificates are listed as acceptable birth certificates in  list C.
  • Accepting expired documents, such as an expired passport or drivers license.
  • Failing to write in the hire date.
  • Failing to ensure that the employer representive who examined the original documents signs, dates and completes every portion of section 2.

In sum, attention to detail and a commitment to immigration compliance is the key.  Employers who have historically ignored these issues benefit greatly from obtaining assistance in cleaning up the past as best as possible in accordance with acceptable correction procedures and in creating  an environment of immigration compliance to move forward.  Ive seen it done many times, and employers who do it rest better at night knowing that they will be ready if audited by ICE.