I-9: Pitfalls to Avoid
October 10, 2022
What is an I-9
In 1986, The Immigration Reform and Control Act was mandated to verify (I-9) the identity and legal authorization of all paid workers in the United States.
In short, federal law requires you to complete Form I-9 for all individuals that are recruited and hired for employment.
Pitfalls to Avoid
- Completing Section 1 for the employee
- Completing Section 2 without viewing the acceptable documents
- Waiting until Day 3 to request the employee’s documents for Section 2
- Bulk purging of I-9s without reviewing each employee hire and termination dates
- Ask to view the documents before hiring the employee or before completing the I-9
- Refuse acceptance of a document because of a future expiration date
- Require specific documents due to suspicion of citizenship
- Suggesting certain documents (Ex. Driver’s License and Social Security Card)
- Require DHS-issued documentation due to knowledge of citizenship
Reasons for an Audit
An audit can be triggered for a variety of reasons, but typically, a company is audited for three reasons, a private complaint or tip-off from a former or current employee, a competitor, or a government agency (IRS, Department of Homeland Security, DOJ, ICE, OSHA, and possibly the FBI). It is common practice for government agencies to share information with each other, which opens the possibility of additional audits, including fair wage and hourly practices, safety, bookkeeping, and taxes, to name a few.
Outcomes and Risks of an Audit
The financial and legal risks of an I-9 Audit are not mutually exclusive of each other and employers must recognize that an audit is invasive, stressful, and time-consuming but most importantly, may result in criminal prosecution and costly fines. An I-9 Audit is always unexpected and typically presents itself at the worst possible time for your organization (or so it seems).
- Financial – An imposed fine from $252 to $2,507, per I-9, for a simple clerical error.
- Legal – Investigations by Immigrant and Employee Rights, Civil Rights Division, or the EEOC; which can also result in audits by the Department of Labor ($$$)