Answers to Your I-9 Form and Audit Questions

We’ve had two webinars in the month of April related to I-9 and E-Verify topics. During these webinars, our attendees have asked hundreds of questions though we’ve only been able to answer a small portion of that live.  We’ve selected a few for today’s blog to provide some insight. Don’t fret if you don’t see your question here. We have more webinars on Thursday, April 26 and one dedicated to I-9 Q&A’s on Thursday, May 3 addressing our even longer list of questions raised by attendees. We’ll have expert attorney panelists on board to answer those tough I-9 questions.

Question: If you find I-9 errors on a form that is dated back more than 5 years ago, can you just have the person complete a new I-9?  (Translation: How should an organization correct errors on an I-9 form for either an existing employee or an employee who has already left the organization but whose I-9 form must still be retained?)

Answer: Completing a new I-9 form does not necessarily remediate the errors found on the original I-9 form because some errors simply cannot be corrected (such as a missing signature.) It may even inadvertently compound the error(s). The best approach is to first identity your total error types. Then speak with an experienced immigration attorney to assist on how to approach remediation. The decision to complete a new I-9 form depends on many factors, which makes this a fairly complex I-9 compliance strategy question.

Question: After conducting an audit, will ICE give you a chance to correct the mistake before imposing a fine?  (Translation: Does the Government have a heart?)

Answer: Typically, after ICE has conducted an audit of your organization’s I-9 forms (and other documents), your organization will have an opportunity to remediate errors before fines (if any) are issued. (So yes, the Government does have a heart!) You can read more on our I-9 Audit Page.

Question: When using an electronic I-9 software, our employees prefer that we (the HR representative) complete it for them. Is it okay for us to complete it on their behalf if they are physically present?  (Translation: May an employer assist an employee in completing Section 1 of the I-9 Form?)

Answer: According to the Q&A section of the M-274 Handbook for Employers Q.45, you may. However, anybody other than the employee him/herself completing Section 1 must also complete and sign the Preparer/Translator section. This applies regardless of whether paper or electronic I-9 forms are used. Be sure to check that your electronic I-9 software allows for this capability!

Question: Many new foreign national employees have not yet been issued a social security number. Can I fill their social security number in at a later time after they show me the number?  (Translation: What do I do when an employee does not have a social security number?)

Answer: Proving a social security number is voluntary when completing an I-9 form.  (See Page 3 of the M-274)  If your organization is enrolled in E-Verify, after completing the I-9 form, you will need to obtain the employee’s social security number.  Once the social security number becomes available, you may then create a case in E-Verify. (See Page 13 of the E-Verify User Manual for Employers for more instructions.)

Question: Do we need to reverify all employees gained through an acquisition?  (Translation: How should an organization deal with I-9 forms for employees from a newly acquired organization?)

Answer: This depends on the acquiring organization’s I-9 compliance strategy. We wrote aboutM&A I-9 Compliance back in January providing full details on potential strategies.

There are many more resources available for free and just as reliable as our blog. Check them out below. Stay tuned for future Q&A answers from our webinar sessions on our blog! • USCIS I-9 Central websiteM-274 Handbook for EmployersE-Verify User Manual for Employers