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The wisdom of correcting I-9s

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Q. As the HR person at our company, I just recently concluded an internal audit of the Form I-9s that we have on file. I am concerned that many of those forms may be incorrectly filled out. Should I just throw them all out and complete new Form I-9s for our employees?

A. Performing an internal I-9 audit on a regular basis, guided by legal counsel, is a great idea for most employers. Fines for not complying with I-9 requirements are $100–$1,100 for each individual “paperwork violation”—of which there are potentially many on any single, completed I-9 Form.

Throwing out Form I-9s and completing new ones for all employees, however, is not a good idea. In fact, it could be unlawful depending on the circumstances of individual employees. Plus, the newly completed forms would not amount to timely compliance with the I-9 law, since the requirement is that Form I-9s have to be completed within three days of an employee starting employment.

Here’s how to correct the forms: Line out (but don’t obliterate) any incorrect information and insert the corrected information. Then date and initial the correction. In limited situations involving work authorization documents that expire, an employer must reverify work authorizations. Otherwise, you can’t require an employee to redo an I-9 or produce different or additional documents verifying work eligibility. 

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