HR and Payroll Guidance for Leadership Teams

Form I-9: Five Things You May Be Doing Wrong

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You found the right candidate for the position, made an offer, and they accepted. Now it’s day one on the job and you have them filling out the required I-9. Before you check their documents and file away their form, make sure you’re not putting your company at risk.

Federal law requires all employers to have their employees complete USCIS Form I-9, which verifies identity and employment authorization. But at nine pages long and with a 69-page instruction booklet, Form I-9 can be a complicated process that leaves ample room for error.

In fact, in 2014 alone, over $16,000,000 was collected from audited employers by the Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).

“With no clear legislative path to immigration reform in sight, ICE inspections are only expected to increase,” advises Eileen Clark, VP of HR Client Services at PROXUS. “Although any business can become subject to an ICE inspection, small and mid-sized businesses are often key targets because they either attract undocumented workers and/or lack formal HR policies and procedures. While it’s important for all businesses to review their I-9 process, it is especially critical for small and mid-sized businesses.”

Before you process and file your next I-9, check out these five steps and make sure you’re completing the process correctly.

1. Timing

When it comes to the I-9 process, timing is key. The employee must fill out Section 1 of the form no later than their first day of employment, but not before they’ve accepted the job offer. In other words, employers cannot use Form I-9 as a pre-screening tool. Additionally, the employer must fill out and sign Section 2 of the form within three business days of the employee’s first day of employment.

2. Documentation

Form I-9 requires employees to submit documents that verify their identity and employment authorization. Employees must be allowed to submit whichever documents they choose as long as they satisfy the documentation requirements. For instance, documents included in List A prove both identity and employment authorization, while documents from List B prove identity only, and documents from List C prove employment authorization only. Employees then can either offer one document from List A, or one document from List B in tandem with one document from List C. Requiring, however, that employees submit more than necessary, such as a document from each list, or that employees submit a specific document, is illegal.

3. Verification

The documents offered by the employee must be examined by a hiring manager or other authorized personnel to ensure that they appear authentic. The same individual who verifies the documents must also fill out and sign Section 2 of the form. Additionally, the individual examining the documents and the employee who submitted them must be physically present while verifying the documents.

4. Photocopies

Employers may choose to photocopy employees’ documents if they wish. However, if an employer photocopies documents for one employee, he or she then must photocopy documents for all employees. Similarly, if an employer chooses to make photocopies, these photocopies cannot take the place of filling out the form and must be retained on file with the form.

5. Retention

Employers must retain I-9 forms for three years following the date of hire or one year after employment has been terminated, whichever is later.

For additional information on I-9 compliance, contact PROXUS’ HR team at 215-654-9140 ext. 102. Or, to learn how our Human Capital Management (HCM) system, iSolved, can streamline your I-9 process, contact 215-654-9140 ext. 110.

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PROXUS is a leader in HR, payroll, and benefits solutions, serving small and mid-sized organizations across a wide range of industries and markets. Our clients benefit from the proven experience of our team of over 26 professionals who deliver deep expertise and trusted guidance in all aspects of workforce management.

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