How to Correct Form I-9 & Other I-9 FAQs

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

July 6 2021

Form I-9, the method of employment eligibility verification required of employers in the United States, is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) document that must be completed for all employees within your organization. I-9s are used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired in the United States.

Upon first glance, completing an I-9 appears straightforward and simple; in reality, there are an abundance of potential mistakes to be made, and they could end up costing your company thousands. In an effort to prevent such mistakes, the USCIS developed a handbook, the M-247, which can also be used as a guide for correcting old I-9s. In addition to the USCIS, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) play significant roles in the rules and maintenance of Form I-9s.

Whether you choose to correct old I-9s yourself or use a third-party vendor, it is important to adhere to ICE’s correction guidelines. With this in mind, InfoMart has partnered with HIREtech to provide you with a simple solution.

Most often, employers struggle to know how to correct I-9s without incurring additional fines. We’ve also compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding I-9 correction that may help.

How much does a single mistake cost in fines, on average?

Fines vary based on the frequency of mistakes on your I-9s, as well as whether or not your company is deemed a repeat offender. As of writing, fines range anywhere from $234 to $2,332 per error (on each I-9). For that reason, the same error multiplied across your entire workforce can quickly rack up a hefty bill.

What’s the best way to correct past I-9s that include errors?

If you plan to correct your past I-9s on your own, you must follow the rules set forth in the M-274, such as:

  • You may only use blue or black ink.
  • You may not use white-out.
  • If there is an error in Section 1 (filled out by the employee), you may indicate these errors with an attached note so that the employee may correct them. Do not write directly on the document in this instance.
  • You may use an attached note to detail why you’re having the employee make corrections so that an ICE agent understands the scope of the correction.
  • Errors in Section 2 should be corrected by the employer directly on the document.
  • All error corrections for all I-9s should be catalogued in a self-audit to be provided to the appointed ICE agent.

If you choose to do this process through InfoMart, we will find any errors and present them to you so that you know exactly what needs to be corrected and who needs to correct it.

In the case of errors on old I-9s for current employees, should they fill out a new form?

Whether or not an entirely new form is completed depends on how many errors there are. If there are an abundance of errors, you may be better off filling out a new one. If there are only a few errors, it is better to make corrections to the existing document.

Completing a new I-9 for each and every one that has errors is a form of document abuse and is against the rules laid out in the M-274.

What should I do if there are errors on a former employee’s I-9?

You may indicate with an attached note that you’re completing a self-audit and that this employee no longer works for you. If your I-9s are audited by ICE, they may take this as a sign of good faith. Whether or not any errors incur a fine will be up to the ICE agent’s discretion.

What is the specific requirement for being known as a 100% remote employer, per DHS flexibility during COVID-19?

In order to qualify for this flexibility requirement, you must have effectively shut down your physical workspace and prohibited all employees from entry at any time. If even one employee entered your building during the pandemic, you are not eligible.

Post COVID-19, how can a company indicate that they were a 100% remote employer during the pandemic on an I-9 for a terminated employee, since a secondary inspection can no longer occur?

ICE indicates that once your company is no longer 100% remote, you must complete a face-to-face secondary inspection of the I-9 with the employee. So far, they have provided no allowances for employees that were terminated while still working remotely. When DHS flexibility officially ends, if there is still no guidance on this issue, you should make note of the employee’s termination during your I-9 self-audit. This will show ICE that an attempt was made to correctly complete the form as mandated. The ultimate penalty, if any, is currently unknown.

Can a remote employee use a notary as their authorized representative to complete Section 2?

ICE has moved away from saying that Section 2 can be completed by a notary or an agent, and now says it can be completed by anybody. This change was brought on because several states, such as California and Texas, do not allow Section 2 to be completed by a notary.

Is it true that you still need to have a wet ink I-9 on file for your employee?

No. As long as you are using a compliant electronic platform to complete your forms, electronic signatures and storage are allowed.

Where can an employer can get the M-274?

A downloadable version is available online on the USCIS website.

Are there any alternate processes for staffing agencies?

No. Staffing firms must follow the same I-9 process. The businesses where your employees are placed should keep a list of the staffing firms they use; auditors will want to see this information.

Regarding a company with multiple locations, should a new hire’s manager review Section 2 of their I-9 or should HR at the corporate office complete the review?

No. The person physically reviewing Section 2 documents provided by the new hire should be the person signing off on the I-9. There is no need to send it to your corporate office.

How far back does an I-9 audit go for former employees?

Audits go back a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years, at the discretion of your auditor.

Are there penalties for verifying Section 2 electronically?

If your business qualifies as 100% remote based on the DHS requirements, no. You are allowed to verify Section 2 electronically; just make sure your platform is M-274 compliant.

Although USCIS allows virtual viewing of remote employee documents due to DHS flexibility, you must physically inspect the documents within three days of returning to the office. Failing to do so would mean noncompliance. Once you complete the physical inspection, make sure to write “physically examined docs” in the additional information box. (InfoMart’s Name Your Own Completer process simplifies this, allowing employers to skip this requirement.)

How do you properly physically verify documents for new remote workers if you’re not a 100% remote company?

If you are verifying the documents yourself, it will be your responsibility (as the employer) to find a way to meet with the new hire so that you can physically verify the I-9.

If you are using InfoMart and HIREtech’s solution, you can do this with the Name Your Own Completer functionality: the new hire can name anyone they know (who can be in the same room as them) to serve as their authorized representative.

Should employers still self-audit their I-9s even though E-Verify has built-in compliance measures?

Yes. Even though I-9 and E-Verify are closely related, they are two separate business functions for employers. Form I-9s should be self-audited to ensure they are correct and compliant, regardless of whether you do E-Verify.

How can I-9 remediation be simpler?

Completing and correcting I-9s may seem confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. InfoMart is equipped to guide you through I-9 remediation and save you hundreds (or thousands) in simple, costly mistakes. 

For more information on Form I-9 completion, check out our webinar, How to Avoid Costly I-9 Mistakes. Ready to get started? Learn more about our solution or talk to an expert.

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record. To learn more about Tammy, visit

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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