Common I-9 Errors

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

A landscaper from Rhode Island called me the other day to talk about his I-9 Forms. While he knew their importance, he readily acknowledged they are not a priority for any one at his company, and as such, the forms are not administered, stored, or tracked with any diligence or care.

He and I continued our discussion about the legal details, potential risk factors, and ongoing management issues necessary to ensure compliance. An honest soul, he finally admitted that he was not going to audit the I-9 Forms, contracted with me to do it, and agreed to reconvene at a later date to address making corrections to the errors.

With that thought in mind, here are some of the common I-9 errors that his company and others typically make:

Using the wrong version of the I-9 Form: Make sure that the form being used has the expiration date of 10/31/2022 in the top right corner of the first page.
Section 1: Last Name and First Name fields are often inverted.
Section 1: Address must be a street address, not a P.O. Box.
Section 1: Only one of the four attestations must be checked; don’t forget to add the appropriate number from the employee’s document submission as required for each attestation.
Section 1: Signature of Employee field is left blank.
Section 1: Today’s Date field is left blank
Section 1: Today’s Date must represent the employee’s first day of employment which is found on Page 2 of the I-9 Form or the verifiable date the employee completed this section of the I-9 Form after s/her has signed and returned a conditional job offer letter. If Today’s Date is earlier or later than the employee’s first day of employment, a violation has likely been made.
Section 1: Preparer and/or Translator Certification box is not checked.
Section 1: The employee must not complete the fields in the Preparer and/or Translator Certification.
Section 2: Employee Info from Section 1 fields are frequently left blank.
Section 2: Only accept original, non-expired documents that are identified on the List of Acceptable Documents handout.
Section 2: If a List A document is provided, do not complete List B or List C fields.
Section 2: If a List B document is provided, also complete List C fields; do not complete List A fields.
Section 2: If a List C document is provided, also complete List B fields; do not complete List A fields.
Section 2: List B documents and List C documents are frequently inverted into the wrong lists.
Section 2: The employee’s first day of employment is usually well after Today’s Date in Section 1.
Section 2: Today’s Date must be within three business days of the employee’s first day of employment.
Section 2: Employer’s Business or Organization Address must be a street address, not a P.O. Box.
Section 3: Must not be completed in ordinary circumstances; it is normally completed when a document has been reverified or the employee has been rehired after a three year lapse.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.