Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Steps to Take When Audit Reveals Errors in Completed I-9 Form

I am planning to audit our completed I-9 forms. What do I do if I find errors?

Good for you! It is a best practice to regularly self-audit completed I-9 forms.

Before performing the audit, decide the scope of your review. Will you review all forms or a sample? If auditing a sample, make sure your selection is random; otherwise, you may face claims of discriminatory audits.

The Audit

Section 1 of the I-9 form is completed by employees. Key areas to review:

• Was the employee’s status entered correctly, and did those who identified their status as “lawful permanent resident” or “alien authorized to work” correctly enter the applicable document numbers?

• Did the employee sign and date the form?

• Did the employee complete the “Preparer and/or Translator Certification”?

• If a preparer or translator assisted the employee, did the preparer/translator complete the attestation?

Sections 2 and 3 of the I-9 form are completed by employers. In reviewing these sections, ask:

• Was the documentation from List A OR from Lists B AND C entered with the correct document title, issuing authority, document number, and expiration date?

• Was the first day of employment correctly entered, and does it match the company’s payroll records?

• Did an agent of the employer sign the certification?

• Was the name, address and title of the business correctly entered?

Correcting Errors

Errors or omissions in Section 1 can be corrected only by the employee. You should notify the affected employee privately if they still work with you and ask them to correct the error by:

• Drawing a line through the incorrect information;

• Entering the correct or omitted information; and

• Initialing and dating the correction or omitted information.

A dated and signed statement prepared by the employer should be attached to the corrected form explaining the modifications, such as “Company performed an internal audit and discovered that the form was not correctly completed at the time the employee was hired.”

If the employee is no longer working, the employer should attach to the I-9 form a dated and signed statement identifying the errors and noting that the employee is unavailable to make the corrections.

A similar process is followed if corrections are required by a Preparer/Translator who helped with Section 1. The preparer/translator draws lines through incorrect information, enters correct information, initials and dates corrections, and an explanatory statement prepared by the employer is attached to the corrected form.

Only employers can correct errors and omissions on Sections 2 and 3, and the same method is used.

If there are multiple errors and/or omissions in any of the sections, a new I-9 form may be created and attached to the old form. Again, a written explanation should be attached describing why a new I-9 form was created.

Other Important Guidance

• If you failed to enter the date you originally completed Sections 2 or 3, do not back date the form. Instead, enter the current date in the date field and initial it.

• Do not conceal any changes made on the I-9 form, such as by erasing text or using correction fluid.

• If you cannot locate an I-9 form filled out by a current employee at the time they were hired, complete the current version of the form as soon as possible. Use the date of hire and do not backdate the form. The employer should attach a signed and dated explanation of the corrective action taken.

Self-audits and corrections are important. Penalties are levied on an error-by-error basis that currently range from $237 to $2,360. The penalty is for each error, not for each form.

For detailed guidance on completing the I-9 form, visit the HR Library on HRCalifornia.


Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at www.hrcalifornia.com.

Sharon Novak
Sharon Novak
Sharon Novak joined the CalChamber in 2021 as an HR adviser. She previously practiced employment law in firms in Montana and Chicago, served as employment counsel for a national company based in California, and assisted employers as a director of workplace solutions. Her employment law practice included trial work, professional support to human resources departments, and workplace investigations. She also has developed and conducted seminars on critical employment law issues, including sex and age discrimination, sexual harassment, wage and hour practices, and wrongful terminations. She holds a J.D. from Gonzaga University Law School.

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