Form I-9 Compliance and Best Practices

January 29, 2016 2:30 am

All employers are responsible for completing an I-9 form for new and rehired employees hired after November 6, 1986. This form, required by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services division, verifies individual identity and employment authorization.

The following are the most common issues we see when auditing these forms:

  • An old I-9 form being used. This form was last updated on 3/08/2013 (valid through 3/31/16). Be sure to use the most current version.
  • Employee Section 1 not completed correctly. Note that employers cannot fill in the employee section. If you need to make changes; ask the employee to correct, initial and date.
  • Identity and employment authorization documents listed in the wrong columns in Employer Section 2.
  • Keeping copies of acceptable documents for some, but not all employees. Although not a requirement to keep copies of documents, there are benefits to both practices and you need to be consistent.
  • Missing information in Employer Section 2 and certification statement such as employee’s name from Section 1, employee’s first date of employment and employer address.
  • Accepting social security cards that have not been signed.
  • Employee completing Section 1 or providing acceptable documents 
later than first day of work.
  • Employer completing Section 2 and Certification statement later than three business days from employee’s first day of work. Best practice is to complete all information on day one.
  • Allowing untrained staff to complete and maintain form I-9s.
  • Missing form I-9s for some employees, often those hired a long time ago or senior-level managers. Note I-9 form is required for all employees hired after 11/06/1986.
  • Filing form I-9 with other personnel documents. Keep in mind that if subject to an audit, you will need to quickly turn over all form I-9s and you probably don’t want to hand over all personnel files, which could trigger other issues.

Sierra HR Partners is available to audit your form I-9 documents and practices, and to train your staff responsible for completing I-9s, which can reduce or limit your exposure to significant penalties. Additional employer resources may be found by visiting “I-9 Central” on the Department of Homeland Security’s website.

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