How to Correct Form I-9 & Other I-9 FAQs
August 16 2023
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 is an abundance of potential mistakes to be made that could cost your company thousands. In an effort to prevent such mistakes, the USCIS developed a handbook, the M-274, which is updated periodically and can 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 a simple solution.
Most often, employers struggle to know how to correct I-9s without incurring additional fines. In this article, we’ll give you some tips that may mitigate the risk of getting fined for I-9 mistakes. We’ve also compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding I-9 correction that we have answers to.
How is the new I-9 form different with the 2023 updates?
When do I need to start using the new form I-9?
Though the new form was officially released on August 1, 2023, companies have until October 31, 2023 to use the old I-9 form, meaning all employers must be using the updated form I-9 by November 1, 2023. Employers are encouraged to begin using the new form before the deadline to get accustomed to the new process and have plenty of time to ask questions. The new I-9 form is available to download and begin using whenever your organization is ready.
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 your company is deemed a repeat offender. Following fine increases implemented at the beginning of 2023, fines range anywhere from $272 to $2,701 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:
- Using blue or black ink, you may draw a line through the mistake, enter the correct information, then initial and date the correction.
- You may not use white-out or conceal the incorrect information in any way. If you accidentally do, attach a signed and dated note explaining what happened.
- 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.
- Include an attached and dated note to detail why you are making corrections to help the ICE agent understand the scope of the corrections.
- Errors in Section 2 should be corrected by the employer directly on the document.
- All error corrections for all I-9s should be cataloged in a self-audit to be provided to the appointed ICE agent.
Working with an I-9 expert like InfoMart helps tremendously with expediting the I-9 remediation process.
In the case of errors on old I-9s for current employees, should they fill out a new form?
Whether a new form needs to be completed depends on the amount of errors. If there is 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 form with errors is considered document abuse and does not comply with the rules laid out in the M-274.
What should I do if there are errors on a former employee’s I-9?
What is an E-Verify employer, and what are the requirements of being an E-Verify employer?
E-Verify is the system used to compare an employee’s I-9 to the records available to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). As of July 2023, the DHS will only allow E-Verify employers with a good standing to use the alternative remote document verification option. Currently, a certified E-Verify employer who is qualified to use the alternative document procedure meets the following criteria:
- Has performed remote examination of employee documents from March 2020 to July 2023
- Was enrolled in E-Verify at the time of performing remote examination of I-9s
- Created a case for an employee through E-Verify
- Is currently enrolled and participating in E-Verify
Any employer who does not meet this criteria must begin examining employment eligibility documents face-to-face by August 30, 2023. However, employers should note that this is a big step in making remote workforce management more accessible. The DHS plans to use this update as a pilot program that may eventually allow them to provide the remote examination option to an even broader range of employers in the future.
I am not an E-Verify employer and need to conduct in-person document inspections. Now that COVID-19 flexibility has passed, what do I do about employees who left our organization while we were still remote?
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. Now, ICE says Section 2 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?
Where can I read the M-274?
Are there any alternate processes for staffing agencies?
Regarding a company with multiple locations, who should review Section 2 of a new hire’s I-9 – the employee’s store manager or an HR worker at the corporate office?
The person who physically reviews Section 2 documents provided by the new hire should be the same person who signs 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 an E-Verify employer based on the DHS requirements, no. You are allowed to verify Section 2 electronically; just make sure your platform is M-274 compliant.
If your organization is not qualified for the remote verification option, you must physically inspect and verify Section 2 by August 30, 2023. 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. Need help? InfoMart’s “Name Your Own Completer” option simplifies the process, allowing employers to skip this requirement.
How do you properly physically verify documents for new workers if you’re not an E-Verify employer?
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 their I-9 documents.
If you are using the I-9 and E-Verify solution run by InfoMart and HIREtech, you can do this with the Name Your Own Completer functionality, which allows the new hire to name anyone they know who is available to be physically present 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.
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 www.tammycohen.com.
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 www.InfoMart-USA.com, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.