February 12, 2010

Top 10 Mistakes Employers Make and Must Avoid on the I-9 Form

The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) has announced that it will audit the I-9 forms of thousands of businesses in the coming years. With potential fines of $110 to $1100 for each violation found on an I-9 form, no matter how innocent, companies must ensure that their I-9 forms are error-free. Here are the 10 most common mistakes employers make that can costs thousands if left uncorrected.

Mistake #1 – The Employer and/or employee fails to sign and date the I-9 forms where indicated on the form.

Mistake #2 – The employee fails to complete section 1 of the I-9 Form on the first date of work.

Mistake #3 – The Employer does not examine the I-9 documents and fails to complete section 2 of the I-9 form with three business days of hire.

Mistake #4 – The Employer leaves the start date for work blank in the “certification” block of section 2.

Mistake #5 – The employee does not mark one of the four blocks in section 1 regarding his or her status or fails to provide the necessary information for the third and fourth blocks. The employee must indicate whether he is a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national, permanent resident, or otherwise authorized to be employed.

Mistake #6 – The Employer forgets to track the expiration date of work authorization and does not re-verify an employee’s employment authorization on or before the expiration date listed on the I-9 form.

Mistake #7 – The Employer over-documents and lists too many documents in section 2. This could lead to a discrimination charge against the Employer.

Mistake #8 – The Employer looks at photocopies rather than original verification documents. The employee must present original documents and the Employer should never accept photocopies of documents for verification.

Mistake #9 – The Employer fails to match the employee’s verification documents – the Employer should look for a match and consistency in the employee’s name and date of birth on the documents.

Mistake #10 – The Employer fails to consistently apply its photocopying policy. The law does not require Employer to make copies of verification documents; however, if the Employer does make copies, it must make copies for all employees, not just some. And, any copies of verification documents must be kept with the I-9 form and nowhere else.

An internal audit of your I-9 forms can uncover these mistakes and correcting them before a government audit can save you thousands!

This information is provided as an educational service by Ann Massey Badmus of Badmus Law Firm. If you have questions about how to conduct an internal I-9 audit or other immigration rules that challenge or affect your business, you are invited to call or email me at 888-849-9104.