Original Date: July 9, 2018

I have written multiple articles related to I-9 forms, audits and other areas to consider.  During HR audits and in my research, I see a number of mistakes related to these forms, which can cost significant amounts of money for any organization.  Common mistakes include; allowing untrained staff to administer I-9s, no internal audits (until I audit), untrained staff engage in the audit, not overseeing the new employees filling out the forms (things get missed), accepting unacceptable documents or fake documents, not recording the documents correctly on the form and making corrections without initializing and dating them.  Correction letters should also be included with certain corrections.  All T’s should be crossed, and I’s should be dotted, prior to finishing the orientation, re-verification or paperwork process.  As the form has changed, so too has the length and required sections.

The 10 things to remember for I-9 completion:

  1. “Don’t pressure an employee to provide a specific document—the employee may provide any document the list allows. Employees need to provide either one item from List A or one item each from List B and List C.
  2. Don’t forget that employees must complete every applicable field in Section 1 of the I-9 form except the fields requesting a telephone number, e-mail address and Social Security number.
  3. Don’t forget to ensure that employees provide their date of birth and address.
  4. When completing Section 2, don’t ask employees to provide a document with their alien or “A” number, or otherwise specify which documents employees may present.
  5. Don’t forget to write “individual under age 18” if the employee is a minor and provides only a List C document.
  6. Don’t forget to ensure that employees check one status box (citizen, permanent resident or work-authorized alien).
  7. When you change an I-9, don’t forget to line out the old text, make an annotation, and sign and date it. Use the margins to annotate the form and attach an additional sheet if more room is needed.
  8. Don’t forget to print your name next to your signature.”[i]
  9. Remind the employee to check the box regarding preparer and/or translator, along with the name column at the top of the second page.  These are easily missed during the process and common mistakes I have seen during audits.
  10. Employer’s need to complete the information on the bottom of page two; hire date, signature of authorized representative, address, date, etc.  This is a common area I review not completed, not dated and not signed.  You can download a PDF version that allows the address and other information to be typed into the form, this should save time and provide accurate information
  11. Bonus thing:  Reminder, authorized representatives should be filling out the form and signing off.  Human resources, directors, managers, business owners, etc.  Refer to the link below for additional information on defining authorized representatives.

Create a policy clearly stating the types of people who may act as an agent for your organization. “The employer can list the best possible choices based on prior experience and include any additional instructions or guidance which might be helpful,” Fay said. He recommends clients consider HR professionals at nearby organizations, local librarians, attorneys or accountants, state workforce agency staff, or notaries. A nationwide listing of notaries can be found here. “It’s best to choose an individual who is already familiar with the Form I-9 process in order to ensure a smooth and quick verification process,” Fay said. It’s also important to know which states may prohibit notaries from completing the Form I-9, or have different requirements, he added. “California, for example, has indicated that the completion of an I-9 form requires you to be bonded as an immigration consultant.”[ii]

Form I-9 Information

There are pages of instructions included with the I-9 form and a guidebook for employers.  The form has evolved significantly since 1986 and continues to evolve, as we see with recent changes to the form and expiration dates on the form.  We could be required to implement and use E-verify in the future, if immigration policy changes.  Ensure that you are using the right form(s) and accepting the right identification(s).

Auditing records is necessary to ensure accuracy and legality.  If you are unclear on how to audit or what to look for, seek guidance.  This is an area that can easily be managed for any organization, if we are proactive in our processes and correct errors.

burr pic


– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

[i] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/state-and-local-updates/pages/8-things-not-to-forget-when-filling-out-i-9-forms.aspx

[ii] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/how-to-comply-i9-requirements-remote-workers.aspx


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