It’s more important than ever that you have strong Form I-9 procedures. On average, about half of all I-9 forms have some sort of errors. Most errors are fairly common and easily avoidable, including the most common:
- Late completion of the I-9 form. Section 1 must be completed on or before the first day of hire. Section 2 must be completed by end of the fourth day of hire.
- Using an incorrect version of the form. The newest I-9 version is dated 3-8-2013.
- No signature or incomplete document information, such as missing the date employment began, missing the name and of employer or date of employee’s execution of the form. For electronic versions of this form, Section 1 cannot populate from other areas (like candidate software). The most common error in Section 2 is failure to complete the Document Title Issuing Authority, Document Number and Expiration Date (if applicable).
- I-9 form not produced in its entirety — both sides of the I-9 must be reproduced.
- Instruction sheet is missing.
- Documents are accepted that contain deletions, like an unsigned social security card.
- White-out is used on the form. White-out is not permitted. If a mistake is made, place a line through the incorrect information, place your initials next to the incorrect information and provide the correct information.
To avoid mistakes — as well as fines during audits — we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you have a strong I-9 procedure in place:
- Don’t be afraid to help employees fill out Section 1. You can avoid a lot of errors by questioning employees if you see them filling out something incorrectly in this section.
- Purge and destroy I-9s after the proper timeframe: after three years or one year after termination, whichever is longer. By keeping old I-9s, you are opening yourself up to additional liability and possible fines if you are audited.
- Be sure to document your hiring procedure as it relates to the use of the I-9 form.
- Do not keep I-9 forms in the employee file. This makes it harder to purge forms as they are no longer needed.
- Be sure to make copies of supporting documentation.
- For remote employee, oftentimes people hire an agent to complete Section 2 of the I-9. The person signing Section 2 must be the person who physically reviewed the supporting documents.
- Do NOT ask for immigration status.
- You cannot ask for a green card or social security card. Nor should you accept more documentation than is necessary or tell the employee which documents they are to provide.
- You must treat each person the same: ask the same questions in the same way to everyone.
Thank you to Tricom (www.tricom.com) for providing this very helpful guide to avoid common mistakes when filling out an I-9 form.