Avoiding and Correcting Common Mistakes on the I-9


Let’s talk about I-9s. You probably filled them out for each employee, filed them away and never thought about them again, right? This can be problematic as there are several common mistakes made on the I-9 form. An audit can be a very costly experience if your forms aren’t all in order. Let’s review some of the most common (honest) mistakes that are made on the I-9 form.

Section 1. Employee Information and Attestation

Section 1 of the I-9 must be completed by the employee on the first day of employment.

In this section, employees often don’t realize they need to check off the Preparer and/or Translator Certification box. If the employee did not use a preparer or translator, the box below should be left blank.

Section 2: Employer or Authorized Representative Review and Verification

This section must be completed by the employer within three days of the employee’s first day of employment.

The first box is often overlooked, but it must be completed using the employee information from Section 1. This is the last name, first name, middle initial and citizenship/immigration status. Sometimes employers fill the citizenship/immigration status using things like, “citizen,” “C,” “immigrant,” etc. The Department of Homeland Security, however, requires this status be the number that the employee has checked off from Section 1. For example, if an employee indicated that they are a citizen of the United States, you would enter “1” for citizenship/immigration status.

Also, in Section 2, the employee must enter the information from the documents provided by the employee. Be sure that the documents provided are acceptable, unexpired documents from either List A or List B AND List C. If an employee provides documents from List B and List C, be mindful that you fill out the corresponding section for each list.

Section 3: Reverification and Rehires

This section is completed by the employer and is only to be filled out if you need to reverify a current employee or if you are rehiring an individual who already has completed an I-9 on file.  You will only need to require additional documentation for this employee if their previous grant of employment authorization has expired.

Correcting the I-9

If you notice anything that is incorrect on the Form I-9, you will need to take steps to correct it. For minimal changes, you can cross out the incorrect information and write in the correct information. After doing this, you should then initial and date next to the correction. Larger or numerous mistakes might require you to attach a separate piece of paper detailing what the mistake was, when it was discovered and how it was fixed. This paper should be signed and dated.

It may make more sense in certain instances to have the employee fill out an entirely new I-9. Regardless of how you choose to rectify the mistake, it is imperative that you keep the original I-9 on file. Conducting yearly audits of the I-9s will help to ensure that you are well prepared for any situation that arises.

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