Proper completion of the Form I-9 is a must to satisfy workplace immigration laws — and to avoid government fines if you’re ever audited. But it’s not unusual for even the most conscientious employer to make mistakes. Here’s a handy checklist of what to fill out — and troublesome areas to doublecheck — to ensure accuracy.
Section 1: To be completed by the employee
Did the employee provide his/her full legal name?
Did the employee check one of the boxes indicating he/she is a U.S. citizen, a noncitizen national of the U.S., a lawful permanent resident or an alien authorized to work in the USA?
Did the employee sign and date the section?
Did the employee check the appropriate box regarding the use of a preparer and/or translator?
Remember: The employee must complete Section 1 on or before his/her start date.
Section 2: To be completed by the employer
Did you include the employee’s citizenship/immigration status in the space provided?
Were the employee’s document(s) reviewed and entered into the form along with the expiration date (if any)?
Did the employee provide documents that were valid and current (and not expired)?
Was the hire date entered?
Did you sign and date the section?
Did you enter your business name and address?
Did you fill out any additional information in the space provided, if necessary?
Remember: You must complete Section 2 within three days of the employee’s start date.
Section 3: To be completed by the employer only when necessary
Note: This section is for reverification and rehires. Leave it blank unless:
The employee has been rehired within three years.
The employee’s original work authorization has expired and is being renewed.
The employee’s name has changed (as through marriage) at the time of reverification; in this case, fill out portion “A” that asks for the employee’s new name.
Additional Form I-9 Compliance Tips
- Use the most up-to-date I-9 form: For all new hires, use the Form I-9 with the date 11/14/2016 in the bottom-left corner. With the recent Form I-9 change, as expected, you’ll need to use the new version dated 07/17/17 beginning September 18, 2017.
- Maintain a form for everyone on your staff: Under recordkeeping retention rules, you must hold on to the Form I-9 for three years after the hire date or one year after the date of separation — whichever comes later. This means you should have a Form I-9 on file for all current employees, as well as for workers who have left the company recently.
- File forms together: Keep all Form I-9 records together, apart from other employee personnel records. Storing your Form I-9s separately from other records reduces your exposure in an audit or investigation by keeping unrelated documents out of the inquiry.
- Don’t keep photocopies: You’re not required to keep copies of the identity and employment-eligibility documents employees provide. In fact, many employment-law attorneys recommend against this. Should you decide to keep copies, be certain you do so for every worker so your process remains consistent. Use the most up-to-date I-9 form: For all new hires, use the Form I-9 with the date 11/14/2016 in the bottom-left corner. With the recent Form I-9 change, as expected, you’ll need to use the new version dated 07/17/17 beginning September 18, 2017.
HRdirect’s I-9 & W-4 app walks you through an automated, online authorization process that ensures you’re meeting all federal recordkeeping requirements and avoiding costly mistakes when completing your Form I-9s.