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In all businesses, there are legal practices that must be known and followed in order to remain in compliance. For example, Form I-9 is required by all companies of all sizes to fill out for each employee upon hire, and for recertification upon rehire. Failure to properly fill out Form I-9’s and maintain their compliance can result in fees in excesses of $350 per line item that is filled out incorrectly. As a small business, those fees are enough to risk your financial success if an audit may occur.

What is an I-9?

As an employer, you are legally required by U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services to use Form I-9 to verify any employee’s eligibility for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and non-citizens. Both employees and employers (or authorized representatives of the employer) must complete the form.

On the form, an employee must attest to his or her employment authorization. The employee must also present his or her employer with acceptable documents evidencing identity and employment authorization within 3 days of the employee’s hire date. The employer must examine the employment eligibility and identity document(s) an employee presents to determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and to relate to the employee and record the document information on the Form I-9.

When are I-9’s Required?

Form I-9 is required for all w-2 employees, both citizen and non-citizen. This form must be completed and identity documents must be examined within three days of the employee’s hire date.

How do I fill out an I-9?

The USCIS provides clear instructions on how to properly fill out Form I-9’s, which can be found here.

I-9 Best Practices

Along with following instructions provided by the USCIS, some best practices to follow are:

  1. Perform an audit quarterly of all employee I-9’s, or consult with Gro HR to perform an audit to ensure compliance
  2. Train all management that is filling out or attesting Form I-9’s on how to do so
  3. Assist the employee as they fill out Form I-9 to ensure that all boxes are completed
    1. (Note: You MAY NOT tell the employee how to fill out  or lead them to filling out Section 1, regarding their citizenship status)
  4. Seek legal counsel if an employee demonstrated non-citizen and/or visa paperwork that you are not familiar with.
  5. Keep all Form I-9 records according to USCIS standards (separate from their primary employment file).

Need Help or an Audit?

Gro HR offers full I-9 Compliance Audits, and regularly completes them for all outsourcing clients. Need assistance or have questions regarding your Form I-9’s? Contact us today at [email protected], we are happy to help ensure compliance in your business.


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