Steps to Conduct an I-9 Audit

Table of Contents

Gather all I-9s on file: the very first step while conducting an I-9 audit would be to gather up all I-9s. This will give you an idea of whether there are any missing forms, help you better organize those with incorrect information and give direction on what steps are to be taken. Once all the I-9s are rounded up make two files of I-9s as follows:  I-9s for current employees &  for terminated employees. Priority should be placed in looking at I-9s of current employees. Review existing I-9s with the employee list to find out if any employee has missed filling the I-9. Also, each I-9 should be checked individually to ensure that the data entered is correct.

Obtain I-9s for current employees who are missing I-9s: Once you have identified who all have missing I-9s, call those employees individually and make sure that their I-9s are completed. Current dates should be used when completing the I-9 form. The date of hire is the employee’s actual date of hire, which may have been years earlier. You will want to write a short memo to attach to the I-9 explaining that when the audit was performed, there was no I-9 on file and the employee completed the I-9 at the time of the audit. This will demonstrate that the employer is making a good faith effort to be in compliance.

Audit I-9s of Current Employees: Once you have taken the step to close the gap of missing I-9s, you should review each I-9 submitted to make sure that they are completed properly.

Section 1

  • Ensure name, address, maiden name and date of birth are completed.
  • For the current I-9 form, the Social Security number is voluntary except for employers who participate in the E-verify program.
  • Ensure the employee has identified his or her immigration status and has signed and dated the form.
  • The preparer or translator section is only to be completed if someone other than the employee completed section 1 on behalf of the employee.

Section 2

  • Ensure that the proper document has been entered into the proper list.  For example, ensure that a List B item is in fact listed under List B and not List C or List A.
  • Ensure that all the required information is entered for each document.
  • Ensure that the documents included satisfy the requirement to not only provide proof of identity, but also to provide proof of eligibility to work in the U.S.
  • Ensure that the certification has been completed and a representative of the company has signed and dated the form.

Section 3

  • This section should be completed only if the employee’s work authorization expired or if the employee has been rehired. It can also be completed if the employee had a name change, but this is not required. In most cases, section 3 will be blank.
  • Please note: expired permanent resident cards and List B documents from the I-9 do not need to be reverified.

Correcting Errors: As you work through each incorrect I-9, use the Handbook for Employers: Instructions for Completing the Form I-9 to help you determine how to correct each error. Per the handbook: “The best way to correct Form I-9 is to line through the portions of the form that contain incorrect information, then enter the correct information. Initial and date your correction. If you have previously made changes on Forms I-9 in White-Out instead, USCIS  recommends that you attach a note to the corrected Forms I-9 explaining what happened. Be sure to sign and date the note”.

Retaining I-9: Once an employee is terminated from employment, employers are required to retain I-9s for three years after the employee’s date of hire or for one year following his or her date of termination, whichever date is later. You may destroy all I-9s of terminated employees that are past their retention period.

Completing the Audit: Once you have followed the steps outlined above, you would have taken one step forward in complying with existing regulation in filling and retaining Form I-9. Conduct an audit every year to close all gaps in your company. In moments of doubt refer the help document provided by USCIS, Handbook for Employers: Instructions for Completing Form I-9 at any stage of the I-9 process. A best practice that can be followed is to write down the steps of the I-9 audit and follow them annually.

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