Common Mistakes with the Form I-9 and How to Fix them


Form I-9 is undoubtedly one of the most important forms relating to employment.  Its purpose is to confirm an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States.   Although this Form is not difficult to complete or retain, there are several common errors that can occur and lead to potential fines and penalties.  Luckily, there are many ways to avoid these pratfalls, which are discussed below.

In my position as Compliance Manager at Reveal Talent Solutions, I have found that the most common mistakes are found in Section 2, which is the section the employer representative must complete and sign.   It is important that your internal staff is well educated on the Form and how it is to be completed.  Conduct routine training sessions to keep your staff abreast of any changes that have been made as well as to refresh them on how to complete the Form.  If you find it difficult to get your employees to attend these sessions, offer a free lunch.  No one can pass that up.

In the training sessions, review Section 1 so your representatives know how to advise new employees on how to properly complete the Form.  More importantly, you will want to review the steps to properly complete Section 2, as this will be the portion your representatives must complete.  In addition, it is very important to regularly review the List of Acceptable Documents with your staff.  I have never been able to review this List in a way any more exciting than the teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is able to take attendance, but if anyone comes up with something, please let me know so I can use it.

Probably the most difficult problem employers face is out-of-state employees where there is no available employer representative.  However, there is a way around this problem as well.  The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration anxiety canadian pharmacy Services (USCIS) has stated that employers can designate an agent, such as a notary public, to complete the Form.  It is important to note that if you designate an agent to complete the Form on your behalf, the agent cannot simply verify the authenticity of the documents and leave Section 2 to be filled out by the employer.  The person who views the documents must be person who completes and signs Section 2.

It is also important for all employers to be aware of and understand E-Verify.  The E-Verify website is a resource that helps employers determine employees’ employment eligibility in the U.S.  Some states, like South Carolina and Arizona, require all private employers to participate in E-Verify.  Some states have implemented this requirement on a rolling basis.  Therefore, it is important for employers to continue monitoring these laws and their applicability.

I have spent what feels like years of my life conducting research on Form I-9.  Here are a few gems of information I have acquired and would like to pass along to you:

  • First, an enhanced driver’s license is not a passport card and does not qualify as a List A document: it must always be documented under List B.
  • Second, if employees present Permanent Resident Cards, the document number is notthe Alien Number.  The document number is located on the back of the card in the top line and is the number directly to the right of the Alien Number.
  • Third, although the USCIS does not require employers to retain copies of the presented documents, if it is your policy to retain those documents, you must do so for every single employee.

Albeit brief, I hope this article helps those employers who are unfamiliar with Form I-9 and has been mildly entertaining.  There’s nothing like reading about government-mandated forms to get the heart racing.

- Lauren Sanchez Murphy, Compliance Manager

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