Updated: Dec 20, 2021
Have you struggled to figure out the Form I-9? You aren’t alone.
Many HR professionals and administrative personnel are in the same boat. We have reviewed thousands of I-9s and have trained administrators at over 180 companies to get it right.
This article covers the top 5 mistakes you should know about to avoid getting fined by the government, from the perspective of an experienced immigration lawyer who has defended many employers from ICE investigations.
1. Have the employee complete Section 1 on day 1.
The most common error on a form I-9 is that the signature date in section 1 is inconsistent with the date the employment began as certified by the employer in section 2. The best way to avoid this is to complete on the first day of employment. Employees complete section 1 on first date of employment then verify information and complete section 2.
2. When in doubt, check the seal.
Most I-9 administrators are not government document experts, but you don’t need to be. If you do not know the name of the authority, just look at the seal on the document and copy it onto the I-9.
There are various federal, state and local government agencies that issue documents and some documents are issued by other organizations such as schools, for example. This is why the verification process exists, so that you are examining the document in front of you, not just guessing. Always check the seal on the document.
3. Know where you work.
Most business names are shortened amongst the employees. Affectionately referring to your place of employment as an abbreviated name is fine amongst friends, but the I-9 needs the full business name. Make sure you write the full legal name of the company.
4. Mistakes happen, but correct them in the moment
Mistakes happen, we understand. But when you (or the employee) make a mistake, make sure you don’t scribble or use white out. Just draw a line and initial and date. However, if you are not the original I-9 administrator, you will need to sign and date any correction to the I-9.
5. Use the document to write the employee name
You are required to verify your employee's identity. This includes reviewing section 1 to make sure they record their full legal name. Employees don’t always write their information fully or correctly. We understand. Best practice is to examine the identity document provided to confirm the employee's full legal name.
In short, the form is confusing and you aren’t an expert yet. Following these tips are a great starting point in completing the I-9. If you feel like you need more help just sign up for our I-9 Administrator training. We can help you to know all the pitfalls.
Compliance and Training Specialist
Corporate Immigration Compliance Institute
NOT LEGAL ADVICE: This article is for educational purposes only, it is not legal advice that may be applicable to our situation
The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is general information regarding law and policy that may be applicable to your particular HR issue or legal problem. Information provided in this blog, or any of our other public posts, does not create an attorney-client relationship. For specific advice you can rely upon, please contact your attorney.