Filling out The Form I-9

As an employer, the Form I-9 is one that cannot be a variable. It’s a requirement when hiring ANYONE – regardless of their position, their pay, or their citizenship status. It’s also important to remember that the Form I-9 is completely separate of the DHS’ E-verify System (but you need the information obtained on the I-9 to check your employee in the E-verify system).

A few things to keep in mind when on-boarding an employee and filling out an I-9:

  • Don’t ask for specific identification documents. When talking to a new employee about what to bring to the on-boarding meeting, I usually read off the list that is provided on the additional I-9 paperwork. I give them options of what to bring and allow the employee to choose what they have available.
  • Make sure you mention to the employee that the documents cannot be expired (the ones that have expiration dates). Most common are drivers’ licenses, state issued ID’s, and Passports.
  • Look over what the employee wrote down – make sure their birthday isn’t the date of hire, that their writing is legible, and that they use the correct format for fields listed on the I-9 (such as date, birth date, etc.). Other parts of the world do dates differently, so make sure you explain to the employee what is required. A thorough review can sometimes save you from an audit mistake.
  • If a mistake is made in section one or two, ask the employee to cross it out or correct the mistake. Also make sure that any strike-through is initialed by the employee.
  • When completing section one, make sure only one box is marked in the citizenship section. If an employee marks down that they have an “A” number – they will need to include that “A” number. They can’t just mark the box and not include the number.
  • When you change an I-9: strike through old text, make a note, and sign and date it. You can also use additional paper for notes if needed.
  • In filling out the backside of the I-9, make sure you include the employee’s last and first name at the very top (a change from the older I-9’s). Also make sure you, as the employer, follow the correct date and name boxes when filling out your information in Section 2.
  • Make sure you are using a current I-9. They go through changes all the time and will have an expiration date in the top right hand corner.

I-9’s can be a daunting task if you don’t complete them frequently or you haven’t been trained. There are specific ways to document each identification you receive. It can be a bit more scary when you have foreign passports, with visa’s or I-94 stamps. Or refugee status. Or even an out of state license. The best tool, that I use even after filling out I-9’s for the last 17 years is the “Handbook for Employers” that is published by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department. You can find it easily here. I refer to this document at least on a monthly basis. I like the electronic version as I can scan the document using “Ctrl +F” for keywords.

As a licensed PEO, our company fills out the Form I-9, processes E-verify and retains the I-9’s for all our clients. We have been trained and take continuing education webinars to make sure that we are in compliance for this process. See how Solution Services can help you with this process by contacting our office today.