What happens when you discover an error on a Form I-9? It depends on the error. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) groups errors into two basic categories: technical and substantive violations. It is very important to know how to make corrections the right way. If during an ICE audit it is discovered that I-9’s were not corrected properly, civil money penalties and even individual charges of perjury and evidence tampering may result.
Common Errors on Form I-9
The USCIS has identified the most common errors when filling out a Form I-9:
- Documents are recorded in the wrong places.
- Information is placed in the wrong box.
- Employee does not fill out Section 1 of Form I-9 fully.
- Employer accepts documents that are not listed as acceptable documents on the back of the I-9.
- Employer or employee completes Form I-9 in Spanish, which is not allowed, except in Puerto Rico.
- Employer failure to complete I-9 certification, including signing and dating Form I-9.
- Employee does not sign and date attestation.
- Employer or employee has missing dates and addresses, or has used a PO box for the employee address.
Technical violations are considered “minor paperwork” errors, such as a missing address, wrong birth year, or information placed in the wrong box. These types of errors may be corrected right on the original form. The employer has 10 days to make the correction once the error has been discovered.
Substantive violations are the more “serious” violations and relate to missing or incorrect information regarding the employee’s work authorization status, including wrong/missing documentation, or missing signatures. These types of errors may not be corrected on the original form, and instead a new I-9 must be completed and attached to the original I-9. Penalties can be assessed for these types of violations.
When Is A New I-9 Form Needed?
When making corrections, a new I-9 form is needed in these cases:
- If the current I-9 is invalid due to missing signatures or missing information in Section 2
- If the I-9 is so flawed that it does not make sense
- If the employer is notified by ICE that there may be a substantive violation
- If the I-9 is missing or has been accidentally destroyed
Things To Know When Making Corrections
- Do not use white out, correction tape, or black marker to cross out wrong information. Instead, draw a single line through the incorrect entry.
- Use different colored ink than the original ink used.
- Only the employee (or their preparer/translator) may make their own corrections to Section 1 of the form.
- Always initial and date the correction with today’s date.
- Do not backdate missing dates, trying to make it look like the form was originally completed properly. Make it clear that a correction is being made.
Employers should first confirm that they have an I-9 on file for every employee hired after 1986. Review the I-9 to make sure it is complete and correct at the time the form is being filled out. This will prevent the need to make corrections after the fact, especially if the employee is no longer working.
This article was updated and re-published from its previous publish date of 8/2/2010 to include common errors on the Form I-9.